Does he just want the money, or should I listen?


October 7, 2003, 09:56 PM
I called a gun dealer today to ask some questions. It's probably the biggest shop in the area (River City in Sacramento).
He recommended against any 9mm guns below $300 or so, especially for a first handgun. (I've shot before of course--many times over the last few months--but it would be my first "own" gun.)
Since I'm not rolling in dough now (and about to become unemployed, at least for a while) I wonder if I should just get a Makarov or Browning clone anyway.
Or is there such a big difference, esp. for a new shooter, that I should go whole hog?

He didn't seem to mind the thought of selling me a used .22 at around $200.

Decisions, decisions. So much time that I could be shooting instead! :headbang:

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October 7, 2003, 10:08 PM
whats wrong with a Ruger P89 or P95? Those both sell for under 300$

October 7, 2003, 10:11 PM
Money conscious new shooters couldn't go wrong with a Ruger P-series!:D

October 7, 2003, 10:13 PM
I don't know why he would say that unless he was just trying to get you to shell out more money.

I just got a HP clone for 200 shipped, and the thing is a PERFORMER.
The Mak is also another winner for performance AND price.
The Rugers, I have heard, are also very good guns, and they pass the price test.
You may be able to find a CZ-75 for that price range too.

Especially as a big dealer, I'd say he's probably just trying to get you to spend more. As has always been my opinion when buying a gun, forget him and get what you want. He isn't the one who's got to live with it.

Congrats on deciding to get a pistol. It's a good choice, and one to take seriously. Employed or not, it's something no one should ever be without.


October 7, 2003, 11:32 PM
I actually said I was hoping to find something for around $200, so that is going a little low for a 9mm: the only ones I know in that range are Makarovs and HP clones in that range.
Fumegator -- which clone did you get? How does it compare with a Makarov?

I'll see what the Rugers have out there.

Since I'm buying this for practice and will get a different gun later, how about the idea of getting a .22 first? I could re-sell it in a few months and get something bigger then (when I'm more likely to need it).

Standing Wolf
October 7, 2003, 11:52 PM
He recommended against any 9mm guns below $300 or so, especially for a first handgun.

It's been my experience that you don't always get what you pay for, but virtually never get what you don't pay for. I'd say his advice is good, but if you can't afford $300, you'll have to do some shopping and compromising and hope to find a good bargain—and probably replace the gun in due time.

October 7, 2003, 11:54 PM
He didn't seem to mind the thought of selling me a used .22 at around $200.
Hmmm... a .22 what?
Revolver? semiauto? brand?
Based on what you said, I'm questioning his suggestions.
His profit margin is going to be much higher on that used .22 compared to a new $300.00 pistol. But you know that already.
Around me, CZ's are going anywhere from $375.00 to $430.00
Ruger P series are going for about $350.00- $400.00 .
Saw a Tanfoglio/EAA Witness for about $330.00 .
How are the prices around your neck of the woods?
I really don't like it when salespeople try to steer me into a thousand dollar purchase when four-hundred would do just fine.:cuss:
BTW: .22's are so much fun, being inexpensive is great too. But I'd rather have at least a 9MM in case things hit the fan. Plus, about hundred dollars give or take for a thousand rounds of FMJ... can't be beat!

October 8, 2003, 12:38 AM
Every collection has at least one 22lr. Trigger time is trigger time & the 22 will allow you to develop some good habits. For your 9mm, shop around, you'll be able to find a good used 9mm at a killer deal ;)

Snake Eyes
October 8, 2003, 12:52 AM
You just can't go wrong with a Makarov.

Sure there are prettier guns. "Better" guns. More powerful guns.

My Makarov is just as reliable as my $500-$1500 guns. It goes bang every time. Ammo is cheap. Accuracy is excellent. "Power Factor" is acceptable for defense. Size is amenable to CCW.

Price is right.

Get a Mak.

You may buy lots of other guns, but the Mak will remain useful.



October 8, 2003, 01:16 AM
And carry cash.

Arm yourself with knowledge, the better to defend yourself against greedy seller.

Don't rush into it. Take your time and look for the underpriced sleeper.

Then offer what YOU want to green.

Works for me.


October 8, 2003, 02:08 AM
Fella walks into auto parts store " need a carb kit for such and such" Counterman says "that will be $17" Fella exclaimed "$17 !!...the auto store down the road only charges $12 !" Counterman " buy it from him then". Fella says " he is out of stock" . Counterman replies " yeah mine are $11.50 when I'm out of stock".

Salespeople, sell. Usually push what stocked, got to keep the floor plan going. I dunno -first gun, used older smith my choice, money saved on extra mags ...well carry cash , be patient, and for the price of a mag, get a box of ammo. Just thinking out loud. For the budget you have, lot of bang for the buck.

October 8, 2003, 05:28 AM
I`ve seen quite a few FM HP clones lately for well under $300. Also saw a couple of Ballister Molinas Sat. for around $279. There are also used Smith M&Ps floating around for under $200.

You need to hit the gunshows if there are any in your area. Carry cash and don`t be afraid to ask ??s on how much out the door for cash.

So many guns, so little money!

October 8, 2003, 05:34 AM
Folks! Folks! Folks!

Please,,,, before hanging the dealer, look at the location.- Sacramento-(California I presume)

- What $300.00 and under 9mm's are approved for sale in California?
- What does $300.00 buy you in that atmosphere?
If it's a Bryco or some other POS, then the dealer is being straight foreward and a stand up guy,,,not a greedy money grabber.
- Wasn't there a recently signed bill out there? Seems to me, there's been somewhat of a rush to buy semi auto's by Califonria residents as of late. That's going to have at least some effect on supply/demand and afffect dealers stocks as well.

OTOH, a $200.00 used .22 (again, no brand mentioned) could be a real jewel that someone had traded in/sold to raise cash for something else before the deadline.

RE: Buying a .22now and something else later..... I'd suggest finding out what new Draconian restriction California just enacted,,,,there may be no "later".

Al Thompson
October 8, 2003, 10:01 AM
Hal has hit the nail on the head. What's available and what the Kali price?

FWIW, I'd get the .22 and keep it. Always good to have two HGs.

October 8, 2003, 10:48 AM
...or, you could probably pick up a good medium frame new or used revolver (357 Mag/38 Spl) in that price range and be reasonably assured of adequate reliability/function. A revo might be a better option than a lower-end 9mm auto, and the 38 Spl mouth should be cheap to feed.

October 8, 2003, 12:16 PM
hard to say about the dealer.....what he said is right AND wrong at the same time
if he is talking about jennings POS pistols, then it is good advice
but someone else mentioned ruger autos, and there are many folks who like their FEG hi powers and arcus hi powers and star pistols for under 300 bills

October 8, 2003, 12:31 PM
Quite frankly, I would offer the same advice as well regarding 9mm handguns. I know that you can stumble upon a great deal in the used gun market every once in a while but as to new guns I can't think of any that are less than $300 that I would feel confident with. I know a KelTec P11 is less and I had one that worked fine but I consider that the exception to the rule and very much a niche gun. Rugers are $350-$400 around her and CZ's are in the same range. I really doubt that the guy was trying to just get you to spend more, he probably was just trying to steer you in the right direction. Mike

October 8, 2003, 12:46 PM
He recommended against any 9mm guns below $300 or so, especially for a first handgun.

I have a full size 9mm Witness that was $275 tax included that has never jammed, only about 1,000 rounds so far, and is more accurate than my Sig 220. As others have said the Rugers are great choices as well.

Maybe he was just trying to sell you something to make more on comission, or maybe he was trying to sell what that had on hand, hard to say without being there.

October 8, 2003, 02:21 PM
I think you have a very good gun dealer gun there!

The evidence is that he wouldn't mind selling you a .22 for $200. And that .22 would be the best buy for you, or any novice!

A .22 is cheap to shoot and if you own one you'll shoot enough to become safe and proficient with a handgun. If you just buy a 9mm, you'll never shoot enough to attain that level - if, as you say, funds are limited.

Buy the .22!!!!!! Shoot about 5000 rounds through it (for about $50) and then go back and look at a centerfire handguns. You'll have learned enough from shooting the .22 to make a thoughtful decision on what kind of gun would be best for you.


Felonious Monk
October 8, 2003, 02:47 PM
Dilettante-- Check your PM's.

October 8, 2003, 04:25 PM
Keith -- that was my original plan, and I'd love to have you talk me into it, but I have some questions.
Why wouldn't I shoot enough with a 9mm? The ammo costs about twice as much as a .22, right? That's still less than paying a second DROS fee, tax, and taking the time to find a second gun.
I thought that recoil might be bad with a 9mm, but I don't really seem to have trouble with them. (I suspect that the culprit a couple of months ago was the .357, or maybe the hard-to-load magazine for the Beretta.)
Having a 9mm would allow participation in "practical pistol" matches.
Shooting the 9mm might be more like shooting a gun that I'd use later in a self-defense situation.

Please convince me, Keith! I really like some of the .22 pistols out there.

October 8, 2003, 05:10 PM
I also live in an area with high gun prices. I'd agree (here anyway) that most under $300 9mms aren't worth it. However, there are exceptions.

Under $200 your choices are very low (pretty much no quality 9mms).

Here is my list of good budget guns for home/self defense (based on local prices):

$200-250 range:
-Bersa Thunder in .380
-used medium framed .38spl revolver (preferably a S&W)
-Hi-Point 9mm carbine (not a pistol, and not great, but decently reliable, new and 9mm for under $200)
-Mossberg 500 12ga shotgun
-FEG HP clone (you might be able to find one this low here, though more likely to be $300 if you can find one)

$250-300 range:
-FEG HP clone
-Remington 870 12ga shotgun
-new Taurus 82 or 83 in .38spl (you may be able to get a 65 or 66 in .357mag for this, but probably $20-50 more)
-used medium framed S&W .357mag

$300-350 range:
-FM HP clone
-new Taurus 65 or 66
-used S&W auto (you might find one in this range)
-used CZ (if you can find one)
-used Taurus 92 (if you can find one in this range)
-used Ruger GP 100
-used Ruger Speed/Service Six
-.357mag lever rifle (you will be lucky to get one in this range, more likely $350-450)
-new Firestorm/Bersa Mini-9 or Mini-45 (if you can find one)

-new S&W M10
-new CZ 75B
-many used autos (most S&Ws, some SIGs)
-new S&W Sigma (keep in mind that many don't like these, but newer ones seem to be ok)

-new Taurus PT911
-new Taurus PT92
-used Beretta 92 (you might be able to find a beat up one towards the upper end of the range)
-used Glock (you might be able to find a beat up one towards the upper end of the range)
-new S&W 910 or 908

(Edit: Please note, this is not an all encompassing list. There are many good guns not on it (the Witness for instance). This is just what first came to mind. It does help to show that there are some good budget options)

For a first gun that will be your only gun for a while I'd suggest something in a defensive caliber (9mm, .380, .38spl, .357mag) first. If you get .38spl, 9mm or .357mag (which can shoot .38spls) you can shoot fairly cheap practice ammo (sure, not as cheap as .22, but it is still pretty cheap) yet it is still suitable for self defense (sure, .22lr is ok if it is all you have, but when there are cheap self-defense calibers I'd go with them). If I had to choose between cheap practice and good for defense I'd go with good for defense for only one gun (for example, if you had to get a .40s&w, .45acp, .44spl, etc.). Get a .22lr later when you have something to defend yourself with.

One option though, is to get a cheap .22lr rifle in addition to a cheaper handgun in a defensive caliber. You can get a decent .22lr rifle for as low as $100-150 for a semi-auto and as low as $80-120 for a bolt rifle. With that you might be able to stretch $225 or so for a Bersa .380 or $200-230 for a used S&W .38spl.

October 8, 2003, 05:18 PM
The ammo costs about twice as much as a .22, right?

Wrong! .22 ammo goes for about $10 a brick - 500 rounds. 9mm ammo comes in boxes of 50 for about the same price...

And not only is .22 ammo 1/10th the price, it recoils far less and makes less noise. That allows you to concentrate on your gun handling and accuracy without developing a recoil "flinch" or being distracted by the loud noise. The more slugs you throw downrange, the better shooter you will be. You can afford more slugs with a .22.

Shooting a handgun is all about muscle memory. The shooting habits you learn with that .22 will carry on when you buy a centerfire gun. And "not flinching" is a habit - it's a learned response that is difficult to unlearn.

Trust me - You WILL be a better shooter if you start with a .22! And you will remain a good shooter if you take your .22 to the range even after you buy your centerfire pistol.

Look at the Browning Buckmark and the Ruger 22/45 for two .22s with excellent reputations, that will also mimic the feel and grip angle of full sized guns.


Felonious Monk
October 8, 2003, 05:26 PM
Under 2 bills, I'd recommend a Makarov now.

Get used to it, get good with it, practice a ton, and save $300 for your next purchase.

That price point opens the door to Rugers, Bersas, and all the stuff my friend Chaim recommended.

my 2 shekels.

October 8, 2003, 06:58 PM
.22 LR is much cheaper than centerfire, but you don't have to spend $10.00 for a box of 9MM. Especially if it's practice ammo.
$6.00 or so for some S&B 9MM FMJ is just fine. Or blazer, or wally world packs, or...
I used to go to a range that was $15.00 a box. THAT stank. range ammo only of course.
I guess I've been lucky, I started on .357 mag, no flinches for me!
Same for my sisters who were fifteen & seventeen years old at the time.
Add to that, this was in NYC. It's not like one can go and buy a pistol there every other month(or sooner). You have to wait months on end when it comes to purchasing a new or used firearm. Now city council is going to make it even harder to own and more expensive to boot.
Unfortunately, you have to just "jump in" and shoot up there, almost no "stepping up" to a bigger caliber like the good old days...:(

October 8, 2003, 08:44 PM
OK, so I'm a little biased... The handle gives it away. ;)

The Mak may be a better right now option, but one thing to consider if you're thinking .22 down the road:

The CZ75 offers a Kadet kit that converts your 9mm SD pistol into a sweet-shootin' .22 for practice -- with the same trigger, grips, controls of your "big" gun. The kit lists for about $250, but they turn up for less than that on eBay or CZFORUM. One advantage over the used .22 (once you have the 9mm, of course) is it's considered parts, so no DROS/waiting period/blahblah. Same purchase process as a loaf of bread.

If you can fit a CZ in your budget (getting one in the lower end of the $300s in CA will likely take a sharp eye and a quick hand), it's well worth your consideration.

Good luck in the search!

October 12, 2003, 01:58 AM
I decided to take a lot of peoples' advice and go with a .22.
I went in today and they had a used Browning Buckmark Camper for $230, so I just got it. I don't know if it was absolutely the best deal out there, but I don't want to wait another 2 or 4 weeks in order to save $40.
They also let me handle a Makarov. It felt okay, but I probably wouldn't practice with it as much as the Buckmark.

October 12, 2003, 02:07 PM
I think you made an excellent choice there!

Give the gun a good cleaning when you get it home - just hose it out with some solvent and scrub away everywhere. A lot of .22's get traded in because they "don't work right any more"... and usually that's because they've got a lot of gunk built up in places that are hard to clean.

And remember what I said about the "gongs"!


October 12, 2003, 02:08 PM
Congrats on the purchase!

How 'bout a range report after that pesky waiting period expires?

October 12, 2003, 03:59 PM
I realize that I missed the thread but I will add my 2 cents worth. River City is a very honest and reliable dealer. Good prices and honest dealings. I bought 3 pistols and 3 rifles from them when I lived in Sacramento. Many local LEOs in that area buy from them also. As far as a sub-$300 9mm, I've never seen one I would depend on. JMHO and you will like the Buckmark also. When you can, get a SIG, Beretta, CZ, S&W or another name brand 9mm. You won't regret it. River City will also do lay-aways if you wish.

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