Let’s face it: money is tight. Even in the best of economies, people like me still have a tendency to live paycheck to paycheck. That means we might not always have the cash on hand to get that shiny H&K or Wilson 1911 we’ve been staring at in the gun store’s cases. Granted, most stores offer layaways but trying to come up with $1000 over a couple of months is still a large order.
So if you want to get a gun, what’s the cash strapped to do? The good news is, there’s a couple of options. In even the worst times, I can generally come up with $550 over a 3 month layaway so I’m setting that as a budget. By the way, I’m going solely by the MSRP prices. Remember, the street value is always lower, even in this panic buying time we have now.
So let’s see what’s out there, shall we?
We’ve talked about Hi-Points before. Yes, they’re ugly. Yes, they’re light on features. They’re also a reliable and cheap freaking gun. At around $199 MSRP for a top of the line pistol...ok I couldn’t say that last part with a straight face...anyway, their most expensive carbine is $450 MSRP. These are cheap guns. You’re probably not going to compete with these or even really show them off at the range. You will, however, shoot the heck out of them.
Say what you want about them, they make a lot of guns for very reasonable prices. They’ve had some quality issues in the past but their new CEO is working day and night to correct those problems. They have a metric buttload of guns that are listed below $500 MSRP like their revolvers and most of their polymer pistols are in the $530 MSRP range. There’s a good reason why Taurus is often times a person’s first gun: they’ve got a heck of a great price point.
Armscor/Rock Island Armory/Chiappa
I doubt you’ll find anyone that won’t say a 1911 is a good shooting gun. Love them or hate them, they’re a popular choice. The problem is that most cost an arm and a leg. There is a small group of manufacturers, however, that make some very nice 1911s for very reasonable prices. They may not have the skeletonized triggers or sweet grips or nice finishes that your Wilson and STI pistols have, but they shoot great and they’re well under that $550 mark. Not only that, but they can be upgraded over time to rival that of the Wilson and STI’s.
If you don't mind a little cosmoline, great bargains are to be had in the realm of antique guns. Things like Mosin Nagant rifles are all over the place and, unlike many other guns, they aren't likely to lose a lot of value. Many won't gain much either, mind you. Many antique gun enthusiasts will tell you that they'd take an old Mauser over any new rifle made today.
Just about every major manufacturer makes .22LR guns. The great thing about these is not only are they inexpensive but the ammo is super cheap as well which means you can spend all day at the range with these things. Ruger is famous for their Mark series of .22 pistols and they’ve recently released their SR22 which runs around $399. Sig Sauer makes the Mosquito which has an MSRP of $390. Smith & Wesson has a .22LR M&P for $419 MSRP and they even have .22LR AR-15s of various configurations for under $500! Those ARs can be tricked out with Magpul gear and everything! Pretty much every indoor range I’ve ever shot at allows rifles they’re chambered in .22LR so you don’t have to search out rifle ranges. Speaking of rifles, the 10/22 from Ruger is considered one of the best .22LR rifles ever made and its under $350 MSRP. Remington, Mossberg, Savage and Winchester all make .22LR rifles for well under $500 as well. If you’re on a budget, the .22LR provides a huge number of options.
You know how they say when you buy a car it loses 20% of its value the moment you drive it off the lot? With very few exceptions, guns are the same way. That $700 pistol suddenly becomes affordable after some time at the range. If you don’t mind a bit of soot and some scratches on the finish, used guns are always a good option for the wallet conscious. Gun stores always have a section of used guns where they try to get rid of their trade-ins. There’s just one problem: a gun store is likely to know what a gun is worth. Look around at pawn shops and online. You’d be surprised at the deals you get. A buddy of mine, for example, was able to buy 2 stripped lowers for an AR at a pawn shop for $70 a piece and this was just a couple of months ago. The owner didn’t know the pile of gold he was sitting on in this market. If you’re going to go this route, you’ll get better deals if you’re prepared. Know the used values of the guns you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to offer a lowball price. Chances are, the pawn shop owner got the gun for next to nothing.
These are just a few of the many options available. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get a good gun. You just need a little time to do some research and shop around. The deals are out there but they’re not going to find themselves. It’s up to you to find them. Good luck!
Photos used under Creative Commons license from Images_of_Money and maveric2003.