Bargain Guns

Bob as a great post up of a Defensive Gun Use in Texas where a home owner repels a home invader with a Jennings 9mm pistol.

Now Jennings has a reputation of making “Junk Guns”, I own a Jennings J-22, and I’ll just say I won’t claim them to be high-quality pistols. That being said this attack was repelled with what appears to be a single shot fired. Even my beat-up .22 Jennings is good for a single-shot, and actually I can often get a few magazines through the gun without issue, given that it’s properly cleaned and lubricated.

Now for both my personal carry guns which I would consider “Mid-level” in price that little quip is horrible. Heck both my carry guns are currently dirty having ran a box of ammo through them the day after Thanksgiving. For my 1911 and my Kahr 20+ rounds is small potatoes, and I don’t feel compelled to clean and lube them unless they’ve ingested 200 or more rounds. Even then I’ve seen endurance challenges where lesser guns than these have eaten THOUSANDS of rounds with no maintenance.

That’s all well-and-good if I’m going to be fighting in the scrub of Afghanistan or clearing a tunnel bunker in Viet Nam, but I’m not, I work in a lab and come home to my armory every night. The only reason why I’ve been lugging around a pair of dirty guns all week is because I didn’t want to clean them, and the reliability of said guns doesn’t compel me to do otherwise.

That being said would my cheap Jennings that last got “Cleaned” by hosing the inside of the slide with WD40 and scrapping a bore brush down the bore, then a quick swab with a Q-tip. (I was struggling to pop the slide off and just said “Fuck it, it’s a Jennings!” and reached for the WD) Would it be able to rip off a few shots right now if I was in need? (I’m going to hit the range this weekend, I’ll bring it and see!)

I know for a fact I can get a round to chamber and fire, and I’m betting a few more without a jam. While not something I’d depend my life on, that’s a decent enough show of force to repel many attackers. More so if the Jennings you’re reaching for is in 9×19.

This is a topic I’ve talked about a lot, but I thought I’d have a little fun crowd-sourcing. What are some “Bargain Guns” that are inexpensive but of surprisingly good quality.

I’ll start you off. The CZ-82, Compact Double-stack pistol in 9x18mm. This pistol was nice but not great until recently when EVERYBODY started making quality defensive ammo for it like this stuff. So now you can have an all-steel 12+1 gun which you can generally get for under $300. Also if you prefer .380 Auto the CZ-83 is the civilain model in .380 Auto (Tho I will say that cheap 9×18 training ammo is easy to find, and quality defensive ammo isn’t unobtainable, plus the round IS slightly more powerful than .380, I prefer the 82)

Some other great deals are Kahr’s CM and CW lines like the CW9 and CM9, essentially Kahr cut some costs on their P and PM series guns so they could match up with competition. Overall the cost-saving measures aren’t things most people will miss, but you get all the quality that I’ve certainly grown to love of a Kahr. Also these are small, light, and powerful pistols in 9×19 and .40 S&W, so you aren’t skimping on power, nor are you buying a big bulky gun that may be difficult to carry.

While Hi-Points are cheap, ugly, and unrefined guns, and generally bulky and heavy for carry, one thing they seem to do well is run reliably. They aren’t great for carry, but not impossible, but certainly if you tucked one in your night stand it would certainly go “bang” when you needed it to if you kept it properly cleaned and lubed.

OK those are my primers. What are guns you would offer as the best quality for the cheapest buck?

What guns are inexpensive but you would NOT recommend?

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0 Responses to Bargain Guns

  1. Jack says:

    I’ll second the CZ82.
    Rather accurate and pretty good triggers (especially on single action).
    Also have ambi safety and a neat hammer block.

    The P64 uses the same caliber of the CZ82 and is even cheaper. It’s got just 6 round capacity though, and the trigger is a nightmare. Wolf does have a kit that makes it livable though.

  2. Paul B. says:

    Slightly off-topic, but I was watching ‘House’ the other night (it was 3am, and we were at anchor. Don’t judge me.) and there was a homeowner with a respectable armory whose predilection for armed defense was judged to be a symptom of Paranoia. Oh, how I love being marginalized by my goddamned entertainment.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Those days are coming to an end. Just look at the trend. I remember several sit coms where the family would have a break-in, Dad would decide to be “Macho” and buy a gun for home defense…and in the end he’d learn the valuable life-lesson that guns are scary and bad, and gun owners are nazis.

      Not even said with a hit of irony! We’ve come a long way, and just as Hollywood is one of the last holdouts for the 2nd Amendment, so will the product they produce.

  3. Joe in PNG says:

    The best bet, and one of the best values for an inexpensive handgun is a S&W K-frame in .38spc (Model 10, 15, 64…). There are Millions of them floating around, and many can be found as a police trade in for well under $300. For that you get an accurate, reliable well made gun with one of the world’s best triggers… a gun that will likely last longer than you will.

    • Joe in PNG says:

      Right, if I had to start over, and saving enough to get a used Glock was out of the question…
      $200 and under: Polish PA-64. There’s a lot of cheaper pistols, but I really wouldn’t trust them. Plus, this one is more likely to hang onto it’s value.
      $200-300: This is right in the middle of police trade in K-frame S&W territory. If I wanted a semi-auto, I could also keep my eyes open for a used Ruger P-95.
      $300-400: Now we can begin searching around for used Glocks or semi-auto Smith M&P’s. A Ruger or a used CZ-75 would be my second choice.

    • Firehand says:

      I love S&W wheelguns, and the 10 is great. But I cannot remember the last time I saw one for less than $300.

  4. MattW says:

    I am not sure what your price levels are for each category. For me a budget gun is anything under $500, with medium $500-$1,000, and expensive at $1,000+.

    Given those price levels, my XD 45 Compact (~$450) comes with two magazine sizes and has run extremely well. Double stack 45s arent the most concealable guns, but it works well enough with my larger frame.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      That is a good price. We often see screeming good deals for the M&P line around here too. Modern polymer-framed pistols are just so much more efficient to make than metal ones, and this shows up in the price tag.

      BTW this shows up VERY well in the SIG 2022 polymer framed pistol.

  5. Iraqveteran8888 on youtube did a great series on the Hi-Point.

    Some of the vids are pretty funny, like when they made a suit out of a trash can because they expected shrapnel. They tried hot loads, barrel obstructions, all manner of crazy sh!t to get it to blow, and it survived everything except chambering a primer and then filling the entire barrel with a very fast powder, oh and then clamping the gun in a vise to act as a bore obstruction and pulling the trigger with a string.

    Getting to the end video required some pretty ugly sledgehammer gunsmithing, but while the barrel did bulge, it never blew. They needed the sledge to get the slide off the barrel.

    Sold. If I ever needed something on an extremely tight budget, and I somehow lost everything I currently owned, the Hi-Point would be top of my list.

  6. While we’re talking about the 9×18, I’ve been carrying a double stack Russian Makarov for the past 10 years. It ran me $180 when it was new, but I just saw some advertised at Widener’s the other day for <$220. Non double-stack, but 8+1 is decent. And they are easily rebarreled to .380

    The Bersa Thunders are supposed to be good, and they are in the $250-300 range, I believe.

  7. Firehand says:

    Ran across this site a while back, with tests of some 9×18 hollowpoints:
    Looks like the Silver Bear HP ammo performed pretty well, and it’s inexpensive as ammo goes today.

    I like the CZ82 I’ve fired, a very solid and accurate pistol. The Mak is good, lower capacity and- now- much higher prices. If you could find one the owner doesn’t want the proverbial limbs for, the Star BM 9mm pistols that came in a few years back are very good; at the time they ran about $175.

  8. DaddyBear says:

    I also agree on the CZ-82. Accurate, inexpensive, and high enough capacity.

    If you’re looking for an inexpensive wheel gun, used Taurus Model 85’s are going for about $250 around these parts. Mostly older guns that aren’t rated for +P, but still reliable and as accurate as you can expect from a snubby.

  9. Peter says:

    Making 9×18 brass from 9×19 takes some time, but is very doable. Wolff makes extra-power springs for the CZ-82, and as you mentioned it’s all steel, so +P rounds (~1050 fps) with the Hornady XTP bullet is easily done.

    Just don’t be an idiot while you’re working up the load, mkay?

  10. MauserMedic says:

    Jennings J-22 was my first handgun, at the princely sum of $60 back in the latter ’80s.

    Still have it in the safe next to the 1911s and .22 target pistols acquired later in life when I actually had money to spend. Sentimentality……..

  11. Kristopher says:

    I’m confused. Did you not ask for NON-recommendations?

    I would avoid the AR-7 carbine like the plague. And any of the cheap-assed euro revolvers that were imported after WWII.

    Charter Arms has been a spotty as hell for quality. Smith and Wessons right after the Dirty Harry films were also awful.

    You might want to retire the Jennings. A pot metal semi-auto is only really safe for a few thousand rounds.

  12. McThag says:

    I’d put any of the H&R revolvers where you have to remove the cylinder to reload on the don’t buy list.

  13. Joe in PNG says:

    Finally, the best way to get a good, cheap gun: ask one of your gun owning friends. We pretty much all have something in the safe we’d be willing to part with if the price is right (more than the gun shop will offer on trade, but less than the over the counter price). And you may even get ammo and accessories thrown in…

  14. maddmedic says:

    My youngest son has an FEG – PA63 in 9×18 Mak.
    It is a slick little gun and accurate, amazingly accurate.
    I would carry that in a heartbeat with the new ammo and we paid 139 bucks for it at a gunshow a few years back…And yes they did a background check on me when we got it.
    (His money, my CCW)

  15. Cargosquid says:

    Not recommended: ERMA Excam .22

    I inherited it. After the reviews about feeding malfunctions and slamfires….I think its going to be a paperweight.

    Maybe my local police will have a gun “buy back” and they’ll overpay me for it.

  16. Rabbit says:

    The ERMA products were always ‘iffy’. Generally not as likely to come apart at whiz-bang speed as say, an RG-38 or an Arminus made under FIE, or for that matter the Arminus revolvers under production by Weirauch, which was not shabby.

    My brother owned a RG 38 which fired precisely three rounds before splitting the cylinder and breaking the forcing cone due to incorrect timing from the factory. I can give you a rough location of where in the Sabine river it was flung with two good
    rounds left in the chambers. I had a thing for H&R 999 break action .22s for awhile; they were ok, but the timing pawl would wear quickly and they’d lose time too. Not overall a bad little 9 shot da/sa.

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