Best handgun for under $100?


September 24, 2004, 03:17 PM
One of the girls I take shooting regularly wants a handgun for Christmas so I'm gonna buy one for her. Thing is, I dont have alot of money. She wants an autoloader and it will be her first gun. I need some recommendations. Under $100 please...

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September 24, 2004, 03:33 PM
Super Soaker

All kidding aside, that is a tough order....

best inexpensive gun I can think of is the Bersa Thunder .380 and that will run you at least 200.00 new....

Maybe a Mak can be had for that price....

Has the Mak for 129.00 and a CZ-52 for 99.00

Neither would be considered a ladies gun, but I am sure that I could get blasted for such a comment. The Mak would be better then the CZ I think for your purpose.


September 24, 2004, 03:35 PM
Howdy Joey,

If this was 1964 instead of 2004, ya might have a prayer of findin' a decent
pistol for that price. 'Fraid you're outta luck on your search. Not sure, but I think even Lorcins are a litlle past your limit...if they even still make'em.
Search the gun shows for a used Lorcin, Raven, or Jennings...but Caveat Emptor on any of those. Quality was hit and miss...but mostly miss.



September 24, 2004, 03:49 PM
Yah, the Mak and the CZ52 are what I was lookin at, mostly the CZ. Why do you say they're not ladies guns?

September 24, 2004, 03:56 PM
I would definitely choose the mak over the CZ-52 for this purpose. That being said, she may find the makarov's recoil to be unpleasant. It is pretty snappy, and my girlfriend fired a couple mags through it and decided it was too much for her.

Any chance you could hunt around for a police trade in revolver or something? It would be tough below 100, but should be doable for 150-200

Black Snowman
September 24, 2004, 04:02 PM
The CZ-52 has a rather large grip and is just a big gun over-all. A duty size rather than a CCW. Plus with the firing pin and decocker wear issues might not be the best choice for a defenisve arm. Fun to shoot though :)

September 24, 2004, 04:03 PM
The CZ-52's are LARGE guns and have a lot of recoil/noise for a newbie. That may be what he was refering to. The Mak would be a better choice (smaller, less "scarey") and since it's double action instead of single like the CZ, it might be safer depending on its usage. Another possibility is a Star BM. Being 9mm Luger, ammo's easier to find. Bad news - it lists $40-50 above your spending limit.

Check pawn shops, flea markets, etc. A lot of great deals are out there, you just have to look. You may find any or all of the ones mentioned within your budget. I found a S&W Chief's Special in good condition for $45.00. No, it's NOT stolen just not valued by its previous owner. Good luck and remember, the hunt's part of the fun!

Take Care,

September 24, 2004, 04:04 PM
Why would the Mak be better for her than the CZ?

I tried to talk her into a revolver but she isn't budging. Unfortuantely the first handgun she fell in love with was my Sig P226 .40, out of my price range by about $400.

September 24, 2004, 04:06 PM
Now that you mention Star BM, I've thought about pickin one of them up. I guess I could splurge another $50 if it would open more options...

White Horseradish
September 24, 2004, 04:12 PM
Why would the Mak be better for her than the CZ?

A. It's smaller
B. It's much easier to find ammo for it
C. CZ 52's have issues with brittle firing pins and decockers not working

The firing pin and decocker problems aren't a big deal to a moderately experienced person, but would be tough for a newbie. A CZ with an improperly functioning decocker would be downright dangerous for someone to whom muzzle control is not second nature because a bad decocker can fire the pistol when attempting to engage the safety.

September 24, 2004, 04:30 PM
sounds like the CZ is a no go then :)

I thought I saw Star BM's for $129 somewhere, not sure though. They're pretty good guns right? decent for a newbie?

September 24, 2004, 04:43 PM
I don't think you are going to find anything she wants for under $100...

You can buy some quality used guns with slightly under $200 -- like a Kel-Tec or an older revolver -- I know you said autoloader though.

I think it would be a better gift to her to wait until you could spend a bit more.

September 24, 2004, 05:03 PM
Guns, like many things in life, should not be rushed nor skimped on....

You get what you pay for.... With very few exceptions...

Exceptions being the Bersa and few others....

September 24, 2004, 05:43 PM
Ok, i'm pretty sure i'm gonna go with a Star B or BM 9mm. Where's the best place to buy?

Al Thompson
September 24, 2004, 06:24 PM
Strong recommendation for the Mak here. As Marko said, it's a pre-Glock, Glock. :)

September 24, 2004, 06:54 PM
Is Mak ammo pretty spendy? I'm thinkin a 9mm would probably be better for her...

AZ Jeff
September 24, 2004, 07:17 PM
Many of the posters here have chimed in with a variety of CENTERFIRE pistols, but I will be odd-man-out here: I recommend a .22 RIMFIRE pistol. Here is why:

1. The $100 price tag for a decent centerfire is tougher to reach than with a rimfire. A used Ruger Mark I, Mark II, etc. "might" be able to be had at this level, if you shop carefully.

2. Small (read that cheap) centerfire pistols tend to have LOTS of recoil, due to the relationship between cartridge power and pistol weight. That makes lots of shooting unpleasant, unless you are immune to recoil. Most newbies are NOT immune to recoil.

3. If the buyer is limiting themselves to $100 investment in a pistol, I assume they are on a tight budget. That means they will be on a tight budget for AMMO once they acquire said pistol. A given amount of money will go LOTS further on .22 rimfire ammo than on ANY centerfire ammo. More ammo means more practice. More practice means more FUN, skill acquired, etc.

4. Many of the pistols mentioned (CZ-52, Makarov, etc.) are notorious for being difficult to use easily. (I carry a Mak for CCW, so I know from where I speak.) These pistol tend to slap your hand pretty good, or generate some pretty ferocious muzzle blast with cheap ball ammo. I consider them to be pistols best used by those who are familiar with centerfire pistols, and are accustomed to blast/recoil/etc. Asking a newbie to use one of these as their first gun is asking for them to become frustrated or scared of the pistol. That's not a good outcome.

It's pretty hard to start out investing in shooting handguns with only a $100 investment. Trying to do it with a centerfire gun is just making it that much harder for the reasons above.

September 24, 2004, 07:29 PM
If the budget can be stretched to slightly over $100, my suggestion would probably be for either a Mak or the Star. I've seen the Stars range from very good condition to looking like they were 'dragged behind a truck for several miles' condition. :p I'd greatly prefer to see a variety of them with my own eyes and pick the best from there. They are a quality piece that should be cherished for years to come and it's a full power 9mm.

The Mak is a great gun though certainly snappy. My small-ish wife shot one with no trouble though I doubt she'd want to put 200 rounds through one in an hour.

If it must be under $100, I'd probably go for a 9mm Hi Point. Some will knock them, some will call them crap, but for a brand new gun, under $100, the Hi Point is hard to beat. Certainly better than any Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin stuff I've ever seen. If you stick with FMJ ammo, it should be very reliable though pretty clunky feeling... And probably not ideal for smaller hands. For defensive use, I'd imagine the Golden Sabers would feed smoothly as anything else though you'd want to put several mags of them through the gun before they were to be relied upon.

September 24, 2004, 07:45 PM
This pistol is only going to be used for recreational shooting, no defense and no carry. I wanted her to get a .22 but she says they're not powerful enough. She didn't like shooting my Ruger MKI.

I think I should probably look for a good used Star B/BM in 9mm.

September 24, 2004, 08:12 PM
Star BM. Southern Ohio Guns and J&G have had them for $129. They fit smaller hands well, have nice triggers, generate little recoil, and have a slide that's easy to rack (very important for many women). Neat little guns. I should have kept mine.

The Hi-Points are awkward, top-heavy, hideous, and develop much more recoil because of their blowback design. Other cheapo brands are unreliable and prone to break. Makarovs can be excellent little shooters, but some have crappy triggers or wretched quality control. If you find a decent one, they're a great buy.

September 24, 2004, 08:23 PM
What do you think I'd expect to pay for a Star B/BM in a gun shop or show around the NW?

Mad Man
September 24, 2004, 09:30 PM
I think you should explain to her that her expectations may be unrealistic.

The .22 was a good recommendation, as was the search for used police revolvers.

UPDATE: While I was trying to find the price of the CZ-70, since they seemed to be available earlier this year for under $100.

You might want to read the small caliber board ( at (

The trigger is not exactly pleasant. (

If you want to spend up to $200, you can get a Helwan (which is an Egyption copy of the Beretta 1951 ( SOG has them for $160 ( (wholesale dealer's price).

The surplus ones that were available about 10 years ago were in pretty bad shape (several of my friends had them). I don't know anything about the new ones.

UPDATE: Ditto what DDGator said below (

Ross Man
September 25, 2004, 03:47 PM
Try a Phoenix Arms .22 pistol. SOG has them NIB for $100. I must confess, I don't have one, but have read positive reports on them and am considering getting one for my wife. Some complain that they have too many safety features...but I don't see how that would be a problem for a new shooter who just wants to target shoot.

I have a Firestorm .22 which I really like. It cost a little over $200. Being a relatively light gun, it does have a little recoil for a .22 LR which makes it fun to shoot. I imagine the Phoenix would be similar.

September 25, 2004, 03:55 PM
A vote for the Makarov here, if you can spend a bit more, they're tough to get without spending $150, when you work in FFL transfers, etc.

The recoil is sharp, but a rubber grip such as a Pierce grip can help with this. My Mak is a carry gun, mostly because my experience with it and analayzing its design has given me a high level of faith in it to go bang every time I pull the trigger, without question. I haven't been able to get the thing to jam or malfunction even when I've tried.

September 25, 2004, 08:13 PM
A "first gun" that is difficult to shoot with a horrible trigger and barely useable sights is unlikely to inspire a lifetime of shooting as a hobby...

I still say you have to spend more $ on this project.

September 25, 2004, 11:11 PM
Look for a Bulgarian Mak in nice condition (Should run about $100-$150 out the door) and buy a Pearce Rubber Grip for it (another $10.)

That will give you a nice looking gun (for $110 to $160) that is reliable and fun to shoot. If you've never tried the Pearce Grip, you'll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Either find or make a mag loader for her. Before you give the gun to her, dryfire it about 500 times to smooth out the trigger.

9mmMak Wolf ammo can be purchased quite reasonably and is perfectly suitable for use in the Mak.

September 26, 2004, 01:10 AM
The best gun for the money is the Star BM. They are miles ahead of the Mak or CZ-52 but cost about the same. They are 9mm Luger so they are powerful and cheap to shoot. There are many loads available and any place that sells pistol ammo will sell 9mm. Try finding 9x18mm or 7.62x25mm at Walmart or some small gunstore. They also have very good triggers, the Maks are not known for good triggers. The Star also looks and feels like a modern gun so it is a good trainer for guns that she may get in the future like a 1911. My Stars are more accurate by far than the Mak or CZ-52 I had.

I did have a CZ-70 that was quite accurate in SA but the trigger was not good and the slide may be hard for a lady to pull back. My wife couldn't pull it back and could barely pull the DA trigger with two fingers. The DA was really heavy but in SA I could hit bottle caps at 15 feet. Not bad for a small service pistol. I paid about $70 for it.

September 26, 2004, 12:56 PM
"What do you think I'd expect to pay for a Star B/BM in a gun shop or show around the NW?"

I do not know. My book says $245 for a blue finish Star BM in excellent condition, and $208 for one in very good condition.

On 9/15, listed one in very good condition for $140. Shipping for one handgun is $17-$19. J&G would send it to your gun dealer, and you pay him a transfer fee. (My dealer charges $20, so I could have this gun for $177-$179.)

The Star BM is a good choice if you want a single action 9mm. Ammo is reasonable right now, and you can find it about anywhere. If you decide on this pistol, then you might first want to find out if someone can fix it if it breaks.

September 26, 2004, 03:36 PM
Are Stars SA only?

Mad Man
September 26, 2004, 04:20 PM
About 10 years ago, I picked up a Ballester Molina ( for a little over $100. I have no idea what they're going for today, or if anybody has them available.

100% reliable, even with Remington Gold Saber hollowpoints. It was pretty accurate too, until the front sight fell off.

September 26, 2004, 06:14 PM
My book says $245 for a blue finish Star BM in excellent condition, and $208 for one in very good condition.

The ~140 Star BM guns are Spanish Police surplus, most have been shot little but carried a lot meaning they are in at best good standards by "book" grading.

The two I have are maybe 70-75% original finish, but shoot great. A little steel wool, elbow grease, and cold blue has them looking pretty decent. I think CAI (the importer) has done minor repairs when necessary to insure function out of the box, this also reduces any "collector value". Grips are usually marred and well worn.

Lots of gun show delears price them like they were in excellent condition and hope some sucker comes along (Easy to find at $250 at every gun show since they sit like rocks :) ). Other dealers look to move a decent quantity quicky and make their profit on the transfer fees. Know the price from places like J&G Sales, AIM Surplus, SOG etc. and look for one at a gun show priced under $40-50 above this floor. I got my first gun (with only one mag) from J&G Sales $140 + $20 shipping and $10 FFl transfer. Found the second at a small gun show for $145 + tax for $158 out the door with two mags.

I think you will have to go twice the price to get any other equal or better gun.

They are cocked and locked SA like a 1911.


September 26, 2004, 07:25 PM
A friend of mine actually found a PPK .32 at a garage sale. Made an offer of $35 to the lady (a widow) who said "Sold!... I just want it out of here...". Why aren't I that lucky:banghead: :D

September 26, 2004, 08:39 PM
1) The recoil isn't that bad, especially if you get the rubber Pierce grips for it from

2) They are generally one of the most reliable handguns you can buy for any amount of money.

3) 9x18 Ammo is cheap! (

4) Mags are cheap! (

5) You should be able to find a good Mak at any local gunshow for around $100 +/- $20

I own a Mak, a CZ-70 (just like the CZ-50), and a CZ-52. The Mak is without a doubt the most affordable, comfortable and easiest to shoot of the three. I love my CZ-52, but it is a real handful, has an akward grip angle and has awful sights. I would not recommend one for any inexperienced shooter.

Mad Man
September 27, 2004, 05:25 PM
Best handgun for under $100?

One of the girls I take shooting regularly wants a handgun for Christmas so I'm gonna buy one for her. Thing is, I dont have alot of money. She wants an autoloader and it will be her first gun. I need some recommendations. Under $100 please...

While we all have our opinions on this matter, is there anybody in the Portland area willing to give this guy a good deal on a handgun that meets his criteria?

If it adds another member to our ranks, wouldn't it be worth it?

September 27, 2004, 06:29 PM
Aim and other have the Star BM for $129. If you can find one for anywhere near this price, it is a great deal. I paid the $129 from AIM for two of them and then I had to pay shipping (~$25 for both) and FFL fee ($20 each). So the total for two BMs was $129 x 2 = $260 + $25 + $40 = $325 for two or about $165 each. I think that is a pretty good price considering what the dealer price is on them. I have heard of dealers selling them for less than $160-170 at shows and think if you come across one at $160 or less, it is a great deal. Mine came witht the clear plastic box, the original Spanish owners manual and two mags. Niether of mine looked all that bad, I would estimate about 80% on both of them. They have great triggers and shoot like target guns. I have been so impressed that I am on the lookout for more even though I have no use for additional BMs.

September 27, 2004, 07:04 PM
The Makarov is a great little pistol and can be bought for a little over $100 C&R (not all of them). It is a good-looking pistol, small, light, easy to carry, accurate, soft-recoiling, and fun to shoot. The CZ-52 is cheaper but may require some aftermarket parts, such as a replacment firing pin. Recoil is surprisingly mild but the original trigger is heavy and gritty. I found the gun in its original state impossible to shoot accurately. Spend less than $50 on a replacement Harrington firing pin from and the CZ trigger pull improves substantially and the pistol becomes quite accurate. I consider the Makarov a practical, carriable handgun, while the CZ-52 is an enjoyable novelty to shoot for fun at the range.


September 27, 2004, 09:10 PM
I would vote for the Mak also if you can step up the budget a little.
Mine was my first carry gun and now pulls duty as my truck gun.
Dead-nuts reliable.
Have also heard positive things about the Phoenix .22. NRA American Rifleman did an evaluation of this gun a few years ago and had basically good things to say about it.

Ross-Man, welcome aboard!:p

September 27, 2004, 11:54 PM
Do this:

Give her a box. In it there is a note, to this effect:

"I want to buy you a handgun. Lets go shopping."

Then take her out, and let her pick the gun.

This gives you an immediate gift to give. This also gives you more time to save up money for something decent.

She gets to pick the weapon, which is a far more useful method of handgun selection than just figuring out what you can get for $100.

The real problem with this is that your selection is really limited for autoloaders at the $100 pricepoint. there just aren't many, and most of those that are there are total crap. The rest (Makarov, for example) may or may not be to her liking.

If someone just went out and bought you a gun, any gun, you'd likely be appreciative. But if someone allowed you to pick a gun and then payed for it, you'd like it more, I'm sure. What gun works for you is a personal choice. What seems like a good fit might not be seen that way by the recipient.

That Said (tm), I have bought a gun for someone, with no consultation. It was a Makarov, and it was for my father. He loves it. Of course, he is also not a novice shooter who could be developing bad habits from a poor-fit of a budget handgun (his bad habits are already well engrained, alas), and I knew that he liked my P232 (which has similar feel), insisted that a .22 revo was a perfectly fine CCW gun (sigh), and needed something that could withstand the tender care of Warsaw Pact conscript troops (sigh!). The Mak was perfect for him. ;)


September 28, 2004, 05:34 PM
I would reduce the number of the girls, otherwise everythng even for less than $100 could be a big. big, big mess.

PP. A modest experiance: reasonable at that price I have seen Makarov only.

Jason Demond
September 28, 2004, 06:58 PM
A CZ50 or a CZ70, maybe. I don't know what they are going for nowdays.

September 29, 2004, 01:26 AM
I think it's great that you want to get her this gun, but $100 is not realistic. $150, maybe. But a centerfire auto of any quality (besides mil-surp) for that price isn't likely to happen. For $100, you could probably find a decent used pump-action shotgun, .22 rifle, or mil-surp rifle.

If $100 is an absolute ceiling, get her a gift certificate at the range you go to, or a gun store. Frankly, if she's just one of the girls you're seeing, that is certainly generous enough. If you're more serious about her, and she's a nice girl, she won't have a problem with your lack of wealth.

Good luck.

September 29, 2004, 02:54 AM
I'm sure you don't want to hear it and have already, but a $100 is going to be a pretty poor investment. With your SIG, I know you have taste in pistols and I realize of course budgetary concerns.

But, on to the recommendation. Take a look at the newest issue of "Guns and Weapons of Law Enforcement". On page 34, they have a write-up on the .40S&W carbine and .380 handgun from Hi-Point. They have pretty decent things to say about it, ending it with;

If you would like to treat yourself to a .380ACP pistol that actually shoots and won't beat up your hands mercilessly, the $99 price tag is hard to pass up.

Just be glad you aren't me.....I have an agreement to buy a close friend a SIG P239 upon her 21st birthday.:eek:

January 19, 2005, 01:13 PM
Zastava mod 70 .32...$99 at Dansammo...better getum quick...BATF just stopped all imports on this pistol. :mad:

January 19, 2005, 03:36 PM
You're best bet would be to give her a $100 "gift certificate" towards a pistol purchase.

THEN take her to a range that allows pistols to be rented, fire the Mak, CZ52, Bersa, etc. Let her make the decision and let her decide how much more she wants to kick in to get what she wants.

At that point she can't blame you for a crappy pistol, and she also won't go crazy buying something she can't afford.

January 19, 2005, 04:51 PM
If I were dating multiple girls at the same time, I sure wouldn't want to arm any of them!!! :eek:

I second the notion that you shouldn't rush into this and get something you don't know about.

Save up for the Sig or whatever else you or she REALLY wants. You will be happier in the end.

Check out CDNN for great deals on Police trade ins, you can find Sig's and Glocks under $400. You will need to download their newest catalog to see the guns, they are not on the web page


January 20, 2005, 10:12 AM
I have to concur with what has already been said. I don't think you will find anything worthwhile under $100.00.

My top choices would be:

Bersa/Firestorm .380

I'm not sure what the Bersa runs these days, but I paid $180 NIB out the door. Which is more then your looking to spend, but certainly worth the extra money. The only thing to also keep in mind though, is that the Bersa is a blowback designed .380.

I know you said auto, but for $200 and under might be able to find a servicable revolver.


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