What's a good pistol for a low price?


October 5, 2003, 11:16 PM
Hey all...

I've been looking around at sidearms for a while now, and (I guess as much as can be expected) it looks like the old rule always applies--"You get what you pay for." What I'd like to know is, what would be a decent, inexpensive pistol for someone (such as myself) to buy? I'm rather fond of autoloaders, but revolver suggestions are always welcome too.

A few that I've been looking at are:
Aim Surplus' Star 9mms
EAA Windicator

and so forth. Thanks in advance!

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October 5, 2003, 11:30 PM
Take a good, hard look at the Makarov. Makarov.com has, surprisingly, a lot of information on this firearm. I have one and it is EXTREMELY functional, it has many aftermarket goodies that are inexpensive, and it shoots where I want it to. Also, the KGB used it, so it makes it uber-kool.

October 5, 2003, 11:33 PM
Makarovs are hard to beat.

Also, there are lots and lots of used double action revolvers in .357 mag from makers like Ruger, Smith and Wesson, Taurus, etc.

A double action revolver in .357 mag is a design which has been around so long that it is just about perfected.

Also, with a .357 magnum, you can practice using cheapo .38 Special ammo, and keep .357 mag ammo for defense.

But I've seen good designs, like the Ruger Security Six, going for right at $200. Sometimes you can find them for even less.


October 5, 2003, 11:57 PM
Whatever you decide, if you're in OKC it would be worth your while to take a look at Mustang Gun and Pawn. They have a huge selection of new and used pistols at fair prices.

October 6, 2003, 12:00 AM
I have a Hi-Point I've had for years and had no problems with it at all. I pull the trigger and it fires every time. They only run about a $100 or so at many places also. Great gun for just shooting and not having to worry about gouging, scuffing, scratching etc.

October 6, 2003, 12:01 AM
Of the guns you have listed, the only one I have (limited) experience with is the Hi-Point. I took a three day class with a friend who had one and he ended up using a borrowed gun after some discussion with the insructor. Since then he has purchased three other guns and does not shoot his Hi-Point anymore. When I "shot" the Hi-Point, it failed to feed 40% of the time.

The Taurus seems to be a good inexpensive gun. A friend bought one of the Beretta 92 clones for just over $200 and has fired several hundred rounds through it without a failure. I had the pleasure of shooting it and was quie impressed. Also, I have seen a lot of good revolvers for low prices.

October 6, 2003, 12:08 AM
Never quite sure how low ''low'' price is meant to be ..... I'd say .. something around $150 to $200 is on low side.

I'd reckon that a good used FEG is worth considering for 9mm ...... the CZ-52 is certainly worth a look ..... and many reckon a Star is good value. Seems Hi-Point can be good or bad experience .. matter of luck maybe!

You're looking it seems at semi's ... but you could get a halfway decent Taurus revo too for my sorta price range ... another possible maybe.

But don't sink to levels of Jennings, Lorcin and Raven ... that's all I ask!!:D

October 6, 2003, 12:18 AM
FEG, Star, and CZ-52 are all fine, I agree. However, I have to stress the Makarov point, if for no other reason then to enter another into the "fold". I carry a picture of Nikolai Federovich Makarov in my wallet and if you buy one you will, too.

October 6, 2003, 12:19 AM
Two pistols that I've bought new and on the cheap and have been quite pleased with recently are my Steyr M9 (a 9mm that's pretty much a more highly-evolved Glock and of similar if not superior quality - $300 from CDNN) and my Bersa Thunder (a .380 akin to a PPK/S - $200 from most stores).

October 6, 2003, 01:08 AM
Good gun for the money?
I always suggest a good used older smith revolver. Police trade ins, for example. Proven design, in a caliber that works. Less monies than a new one IMO not as well made, and less monies than a bottom feeder. Old Ruger security six , 'nuther good choice.
One student bought a k frame shot little carried lots for $185. Bro has a Security six paid $165. Smooth trigger, change grips on both examples...hard to beat.

October 6, 2003, 04:23 AM
I have always said that the best low cost pistol was the Ruger P95. :D
Pistolet Makarova is no slouch either!!
The only gun on your list I have any experience with is the High Point 9mm Compact. Mine is buried somewhere in the vast Sonoran desert!!! :evil:

October 6, 2003, 04:35 AM
star bm

October 6, 2003, 05:45 AM
Out of your list the CZ-52. But isn't that a .380? Not that I'm against the .380 but if this is going to be your only gun for awhile I'd suggest something with a bit more power and versatility as a shooter.

Look into used S&W and Ruger revolers with a 4" barrel. They'll serve you better and more reliably than the others. Yep, you definately get what you pay for and you dont' want to get something you can't wait to get rid of.

October 6, 2003, 06:38 AM
As for the service revolvers...the Ruger Security Six get my vote....a more modern design than the Kay Smiths that can be field stripped! Seen 'em for 200 or less. Just need decent grips. I am not a major revolver guy, but they are very reliable and dirt simple...if you can't do the job with six...you are normally in deeper doo-doo than you need to be anyway.
But I personally prefer the feel of those extra mags and slim profile of the autoloaders.
The Makarov is good for the money. I had one a few years back and the safety tore a chunk outta my thumb knuckleouch), otherwise it was a fine pistol and can be concealed. There is much more ammo available for it now too...good JHP's for defense. They are reliable, concealable pistols.
I really have limited experience with the Star pistols...but like the 'feel' of the 1911-Sytle piece...if it is reliable with JHP's(Remington Golden Sabre's feed OK in most military guns I have found...more of a 'ball' profile). Tried a Star PD years ago and a Firestar .45, mixed results...won't personally go there again!
I would get something more powerful than a 380 if it is to be used for defense. The Mak is barely acceptable for defense...but then again, my caliber choices always involve the numbers 4 and 5!!
But I think I'd save my pennies and go up to a CZ-75 or one of its Kin.
Though they are not as cheap as they once were the Sistema 1911's would be high on my list....but I am a 1911 fan(atic).
But for under 2 bills...the Mak,or the Ruger Security Six win.
For 3 bills, you can get a Ruger P series auto pistol...which are built like trucks, reliable and accurate...the P-97 would be my choice. Though the Witness series may be in the same bracket, and I hear they are pretty decent. Always wondered about the Polymer .45 they have out! As a nice additional feature, I believe you can get conversion unit's for the Witness..if I recall...later getting a .22 for cheap practise is a great idea.
For 4 bills(or slightly less in some places)...come the CZ-75 series. The Sistema is in that range too, I believe. Mught find a Springfield MilSpec around this price range too.
And for 5...a used 1911 gets my attention...Colt 1991A1. I have seen Springfield's in this range too!
Points to ponder!!!!!
Another 'Clear As Mud Production'!

October 6, 2003, 09:58 AM
CZ75 or CZ75BD = best buy in handguns, period. Hicaps cheap.

Ruger P-series = clunky and not my cup of tea, but a great value, no question. Hicaps also cheap.

October 6, 2003, 10:15 AM
CZ52 is a 7.62X25, one of the most interesting cartridges ever shoved in a pistol barrel. Not much wieght (usually 87gr) but it makes up for it with speed (close to 1400fps). That gives it a ME of around 350, and that ain't too shabby. Kinda on the large size for carry. I've seen them around here for under $150 with 2 mags. If you have a C&R you can get them for $99. Ammo can be abit tricky to find. Seems like someone was making HP for it, but I can't remember who.

Mike Irwin
October 6, 2003, 11:26 AM
Star BM is looking good.

Were I not buying something else, I'd probably buy one of those.

Ala Dan
October 6, 2003, 11:42 AM
Greeting's All-

As my friend re1973 has pointed out, a good Ruger
Security-Six in .357 magnum is awfully hard to beat. For
a newbie, the revolver will be the easiest to train with.
If you have rather large hands, slip on a set of Pachmayr
grip's; for an enjoyable and comfortable feeling, that
allows complete control of the revolver. Consideration of
barrel length for a beginner, should remain at 4 inches;
which still allows for defensive carry.

If you just have to have an inexpensive auto, may I
suggest that you take a look at the Bersa Thunder .380.
Some very good threads can be found here regarding
that particular firearm. I've never owned one myself,
but from all indications its a remarkable little firearm.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

October 6, 2003, 12:30 PM
Don't rule out the Keltec P-11 also. Good pistol, just has a heavy trigger pull, and is chambered in 9mm. You can find them for $199 or less if you look around.

October 6, 2003, 12:40 PM
Makarov $100-$250.
Kel-Tec $199-$250.
Rossi and Taurus revolvers $99 & up.

Chairman Meow
October 6, 2003, 04:06 PM
Anything CZ is going to be a great handgun for a great price. I see used CZ75's at gunshows for around $250 sometimes. I think CZ75's are my favorite 9mm at any price, but the fact that they are cheap is just icing on the cake. As
dgg9 pointed out, the mags are nice and cheap, even high-caps, and they are readilly available.

October 6, 2003, 09:52 PM
Makarov all the way out of those choices.

Tropical Z
October 6, 2003, 10:19 PM
I actually OWN AND shoot all the guns on your list except the Star and have found all to be good performers.The Windicators are WAY underrated as revolvers ( i own two) go.That said i think any gun on your list would be a good choice as well as a Makarov if theyre to your liking.;)

Gary H
October 6, 2003, 10:28 PM
I'm partial to used S&W revolvers. I've nothing against the Rugers, but you can do a good bit of trigger work on the older Smiths and think that you had gone to revolver heaven. I suspect that a used Kahr K-9, or K-40 could be found.

October 6, 2003, 10:31 PM
--"You get what you pay for."

This is true. I think a gun is where even thrifty (ok, cheap) people should splurge. It doesn't pay to get a cheaply made gun, no matter what the reason.

If you were going to jump out of a plane, wouldn't you like to know your parachute was made by one of the top manufacturers, not the bottom? ;)

My 2 pesos.


October 6, 2003, 10:36 PM
Cheap does not equate to cheaply made when you're talking surplus.

October 6, 2003, 10:43 PM
Cheap does not equate to cheaply made when you're talking surplus.

This is true. I'm just saying don't look for Saturday night specials.


October 6, 2003, 10:50 PM
Then I agree. :)

October 6, 2003, 10:55 PM
The flip side of that is that you don't always get what you pay for. Most of the high end guns are so overpriced, you're paying for alot of hype. I'll be the last person to tell you that an HK USP45 Tactical for instance isn't a great gun (my personal favorite to dream about owning), but if you think it's worth the grand they ask for it I'd like to sell you my collection of WWII relics. And do you really think that Springfield improved the HS 2000 so much that it warranted adding another franklin to the price?:rolleyes:

October 6, 2003, 11:06 PM
Without a single doubt, makarovs

Safety First
October 7, 2003, 07:37 PM
I have Bersa thunder 380 on order, and can't wait for it to come in. The one I ordered is in nickel with an extra mag,price is 239.00. They are available in matte and duo-tone for around 200.00 with one mag in most stores. There are a lot of folks on THR that have nothing but good things to say about that gun. Bersa also advertises it in 9mm and .40 but I have not actually seen those available for sale. The 45 is available now...Another good value is CZ and between those two brands should get the most gun for the money and both have a reputation for reliability.. good luck...

October 7, 2003, 07:48 PM
dion... i'm in okc i have a makarov i'd sell ya for $120. its been carried alot and shot a little. finish is about 60% (lots of holster wear) but in great mechanical condition. pm me if you wanna see it. saddlebum

October 8, 2003, 07:41 AM
Definetly a Makarov - the best commercial pistol value out there.

October 8, 2003, 09:55 PM

October 9, 2003, 01:13 AM
I am a big fan of quality cheap guns. There have been many good suggestions. In the $200 and under category:

1. Makarov (ammo might be hard to find in your area 9x18 aka 9mm Makarov. The Maks also come in .380 . You can mail order ammo too. I have a Russian model and an E. German. Keep your eyes open for a nice one. Bulgarians are also good. Don't have one yet.

2. FEG PJK-9HP (any FEG 9mm would be a decent choice.) I own one. Decent copy of the Hi-Power. Quality varies. Mine has really nice bluing. Arcus 94 is also a Hi-Power copy (blockier slide) and is supposed to be very good value. I have not seen one in person.

3. Bersa .380 or FEG .380. I'm not a huge fan, but they are reliable.

4. Used Dan Wesson or Smith or Ruger if you can find one under $200. They are out there. I got a DW 15 with extra barrels for $200.

Over $200

1. CZ-75 or 85. Any variety. I absolutely love my 85 Combat model. The CZ-75BD's were going new for $319 for a while. You can still find some. If you spot a used CZ-75 one they are great guns. I also like the CZ-83 in either 9mm Mak or .380. They are nicer than the Makarov surplus guns, but more expensive.

2. Ruger autoloaders are ugly, but tough and accurate. I have seen bargains in the used dept. Don't own one though.

3. Used S&W autoloaders. Police trade-ins etc... The 5900 series are good solid guns. I would buy one if I didn't already have a CZ.

4. Norinco 1911's. I'm on the lookout for a cheap one. Not sure what your intended purpose is, but 1911's are fun guns.

5. Daewoo DP-51 - often overlooked. It is an excellent gun at a great price.

You mentioned autoloaders specifically, but used revolvers can be a great deal. Ruger GP-100's are excellent choices. Read the revolver checkout thread that floats at the top of the revolver forum. Jim March is the original author. Goes over how to check out new/used revo's.

Stephen A. Camp
October 9, 2003, 01:24 AM
Hello. Some thoughts on this subject can be found via the links below.





Best and good luck in your search.

October 9, 2003, 03:59 AM
Mr.Camp, Very Nice report on the Taurus PT92/99.

Have any thing about Beretta vs Taurus 92/99 vs Glock 17/19? I would be very much interested.:D

October 9, 2003, 08:46 AM
I have to agree with jercamp45!

The Ruger Security Six is a wonderful value, strong, accurate, and widely available. Good aftermarket grips may be a worthwhile investment, but I have a girlfriend who'd fight anyone that would want to change a thing on her mint, stock revolver (she paid $210 for it a few months ago - unfired, LNIB!).

Something just for fun? I'd recommend either the CZ 50 or the CZ 70! I've shot both and found them delightful and inexpensive, well-made and very serviceable (best groups were 3" at 25 yards, Weaver).


October 9, 2003, 11:16 AM
as far as new commercial pistols go, I think the Bersa .380 is pretty great.

You should be able to get one for $200. they are very reliable, accurate, and pleasant to shoot.

A Makarov is good too, although the ammo is harder to find in stores.

Stephen A. Camp
October 9, 2003, 12:29 PM
Hello, AUTIGER04. No, not yet. I don't own a Beretta to use and none of my buddies do. I might be able to do a deal with the Glock 17/19 as that request is pretty frequent, but I'll have to borrow the guns.

I'll try. I'd be less than honest were I to say that deer season, which is nearly here, won't slow this all up quite a bit.


October 9, 2003, 12:41 PM
Stephen, Thats fine I can wait.;)

Yep, I really enjoyed your article pairing the Beretta Vs Taurus. I have been trying to find info concerning this subject for a long time. Thanks again for a Very informative review. Two Thumbs Up.

October 10, 2003, 12:28 AM

Feg PMK .380
Star BM

Taurus PT-92 / 99

October 10, 2003, 06:01 AM
That was one good piece on the Taurus 92, which I'd recommend anytime too. I've got a 99 decocker version with similar UM grips that has served me for a dozen years and over 20.000 rounds very well: just recently I had to replace my first locking block. The barrel is still dead on, very decent groups.

A couple of things about the article though: the front sight on my 99 seems very much the same size as the 92, not a bit taller. The mag release certainly doesn't interchange with Beretta as they don't share their history - at the time Beretta owned the factory the pistols still had mag catches at the heel of the butt. Both have since designed their own, likewise the safety arrangements where Beretta's more radical change made it worse in my opinion, no Cond. 1 carry possible.

The Taurus mag release is not ambi, but reversible though. You can push it way in and unscrew the plug on the other side, then put it in the other way.

The roll pin doesn't hold it in place. I don't know its purpose, but that's not it. Roll pins are an achilles heel of the pistol altogether, they shake loose and to bits. You'll need Lok-Tite... that's why I recommend to stay away from the 99, the rear sight abomination has several... :banghead: If you need adjustable, get a 92 and an aftermarket sight that'll fit its dovetail.

That's what I'm doing now, I'm getting a replacement slide soon because my nowadays active IPSC practice with kydex gear eats up the bluing and I hate the 99 rear sight anyway - after several roll pin replacements and fixes it's a mess with a vertical screw installed from top... it's tritium time and I'll try the factory 92BNS version sights first.

October 11, 2003, 12:41 AM
Springfield XD or Glock, IME.

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