380 or .38 special


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tomg303
April 25, 2013, 02:23 AM
Hey guys,

Right now I'm looking for a handgun for plinking while I'm out in the mountains as well as a little bit of self defense from whatever critters are roaming around up there. Obviously neither of these calibers are bear guns but I'm more likely to run into wolves or other smaller animals where I am at. So the question should I pick up a barely used hi-point 380 for $100 or hold out and try to find a used .38 special for around the same price (which will be quite difficult seeing as the pawn shops here aren't stocked well at the moment)?
Thanks,
Tom

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Inebriated
April 25, 2013, 02:26 AM
What's your budget? Do you prefer auto > revolver? Are you considering this for carrying daily, or solely in the mountains?

And .38 > .380, if those are the only choices.

tomg303
April 25, 2013, 02:37 AM
Budget would ideally be under 200. I just put those two options because they seem to be the only two feasible in my ideal price range. I will only carry in the mountains and I have no preference between revolver and auto. Both are a blast to shoot.

Bobson
April 25, 2013, 02:55 AM
Both [revolvers and autos] are a blast to shoot.
Do you have any handgun currently? A HiPoint isn't the worst brand you could consider, but it's not the best either. In all fairness, I've heard more positive things about HiPoint than negative, if that's worth anything. I just wouldn't sleep well recommending it to someone I really care about, so I can't do it here either; it's not that I'm trying to be a brand snob.

I think you'd be better off bring that max price up to $250-300, or just buying some really high quality OC spray. If you do that though, be sure you buy the kind with the single-jet nozzle, rather than the cone. It will increase your range, and decrease the effect you feel on your end (you will feel something).

Welcome to The High Road.

EDIT:

This thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=701382&highlight=OC+spray) has some good amount of information about OC spray (even though that's not the topic of the thread itself), if that's something you want some more information on. There are also a few specific suggestions you might want to look at.

If you do end up going with a HiPoint, you might want to select a .45 or something, instead of .380? I think they're all priced the same. Ammo will be harder to find, but certainly not impossible.

tomg303
April 25, 2013, 03:19 AM
Hey thanks for the response and welcoming. This gun is really mostly for fun so I don't really feel the need to carry a gun or spray its kind of a just in case thing. I only bring up the hi-point because there is one in my area for $100. I know a $100 more would boost my range but I'd like to be able to afford some ammo when I get the gun hah. Thanks for your post!

silicosys4
April 25, 2013, 03:35 AM
I would choose .38spcl over .380, you have more options for loads as far as bullet weights, you have the option to use snake shot loads, etc....

Inebriated
April 25, 2013, 03:47 AM
If it's mostly for fun/plinking, the .380 and .38 SPC are low on the list of cartridges I'd want. I'm sure you'll get a lot of responses on other cartridges, so I'll throw this one out....

Have you thought about .22LR/WMR? You can get a TON of .22 autos and revolvers from $100 new, all the way on up. .22WMR is plentiful even in the hardest of times, cheap enough to blow a few hundred rounds and not feel broke, and certainly nothing to scoff at for defense. If you've got $100 to spend, a Heritage Arms Rough Rider would give you .22LR, .22 Long, .22 Short, and .22 WMR for about $120 (at my local shop, anyway). A ton of versatility, and cheap shooting.

Deus Machina
April 25, 2013, 06:36 AM
Count me as another vote for .38 Special.
It's a good fun cartridge, you can find good guns in the caliber cheap if you're lucky, it's likely to be less expensive to shoot than .380, and I would trust it more for wildlife defense than .380.
Not that either would be my first choice for defense against wolves or wildcats, and it's way down the list for bear, but a 158-grain .38 Special of any flavor will penetrate a lot better than a 90-grain .380.
For the trail, I'd suggest a semi-wadcutter or a JHP designed more for the hunter in mind.

Edit: See Inebriated above. If you're buying it for fun and not planning to use it for defense in bear country, the .22's are the best bang for the buck.

76shuvlinoff
April 25, 2013, 06:53 AM
I pocket a .380 very often but for hiking around of those two I would choose .38 spcl. (I own both) BUT for me the logical purchase would be a 3-4".357 mag. 357 for wild life and .38s for plinking.

My wife's bedside is a 5 shot 4" .357 loaded with 158 gr .38s.


,

bannockburn
April 25, 2013, 07:25 AM
I would go with a .38 Special revolver as well. I use to have a Rossi Model 88 as my constant companion on many a hike through the woods. Basically it was a stainless steel J frame size revolver with a 3" barrel and a semi-adjustable rear sight. Loaded with 158 gr. ammo, I felt it was quite adequate for use against feral dogs and wolves, as well as any two legged predators that might be around.

JRWhit
April 25, 2013, 07:52 AM
A couple of point's,
If you reload or plan to, 38 special is a blast to shoot, very forgiving, and has easy brass collection after the shot. If primarily it's for plinking id go with at least a four inch barrel and steer away from snubs.
If you are more the type to rattle through a magazine, might I suggest a Bersa Thunder 380. They run at around the same price range and have a very good report on reliability. Opinion only, when set side by side, hands down look way better than any high point I've ever seen. A new Bersa Thunder will sell from $220 to $280, depending on region. You may find it cheaper,especially if used.

All that being said, Inebriated brings a pretty good consideration with 22 WMR.

tomg303
April 25, 2013, 12:13 PM
Thanks guys. I will take all your comments into consideration.

MedWheeler
April 25, 2013, 12:16 PM
I highly second (third, actually, as JRWhit also agreed) Inebriated's suggestion of the Heritage Rough Rider, with both cylinders. Easily packable on the trail, and numerous cartridge options (including snake shot!), and quite affordable. Plus, there's nothing like the "authenticity" of the old single-action firing style out on the trail.

If you like the semi-automatics more, the Phoenix Arms HP-22A is also easily carried, reliable, well within your price point, and holds ten rounds of .22LR in its magazine. Like all small blowback rimfire pistols, it works best with quality, high-velocity ammo such as CCI MiniMags.

I vouch for those above two suggestions from firsthand knowledge because I own both, and do a fair bit of hiking myself (though no mountains here in Florida!)

If you are set on a centerfire cartridge in a semi, the Hi-Point C380 is likely the only choice in that caliber that falls within your price point. However, the C9 may very well be more affordable to shoot, as it's chambered in the (usually) more-available and affordable 9mm cartridge.

But, if you do see a revolver in .38 (other than a Rohm/RG!) for around two bills, it would be a good choice as well, probably a better one overall.

golden
April 25, 2013, 02:01 PM
TOMG303,

I know you did not mention this caliber, but you can find some decent guns in the $200.00 range and ammo is not that expensive.

I bought a CZ 82 for @ $200.00 and it is a superbley made pistol.

I cannot recommend the HIGH POINT because I have not personally shot one, though some posters like them.

At $100.00, it is hard to imagine a good handgun, unless you get a real deal. Even a CHARTER ARMS or TAURUS .38 Special will set you back about $200.00

I came across a BROWNING .380ACP model 1910/1955 a few years ago for $275.00. It would fill your bill perfectly, but quality usually costs you.

What about a .22lr semi auto rifle? You can get good used ones for @100.00 if you haggle.

Good luck with your choice.

Jim

788Ham
April 25, 2013, 02:15 PM
I don't want to sound unkind, or smart in anyway, but $200 budget for a revolver isn't going to put much of a firearm in your hands! Most revolvers in my area start @ $300 - $350, don't get something that isn't going to be worth carrying. Just IMHO.

returningfire
April 25, 2013, 03:06 PM
380 works OK on two legged critters. 38 Special will work on just about all critters.

Coyote3855
April 25, 2013, 04:10 PM
Makarov is a good choice, but I don't know if you can find one in your price range. CZ 82 is not really a Makarov, but uses the same 9x18 cartridge. If you can find a CZ 82 for $200, I would chose that.

murf
April 25, 2013, 05:16 PM
you should be able to find an old model 10 out there somewhere. s&w made some fine revolvers back in the day.

murf

firesky101
April 25, 2013, 05:48 PM
I would not ccw a hi-point, but you say it is for the mountains so no big concern there. Talk to your local gun shops. You should be able to get a 9mm Hi-point for well under $200 otd, and the ammo is so much cheaper than .38 or .380 that you will quickly make up the difference.

1911Tuner
April 25, 2013, 09:01 PM
Given the choice of the High Point for the .380 cartridge...I'd go with a good .38 Special revolver. I'll cast a vote for the Model 10.

Smith made a blue million of'em, and there are lot of good ones in the pipeline. You'll find the cartridge more versatile than the .380 and the revolver worlds easier to shoot well than the High Point, not to mention more pleasant to pack around all day.

Just my 2% of a buck.

rcmodel
April 25, 2013, 09:26 PM
At $100.00, it is hard to imagine a good handgun, unless you get a real deal. Even a CHARTER ARMS or TAURUS .38 Special will set you back about $200.00If you can find a $100 dollar S&W, it is stolen.

Your goal is drastically unrealistic if you want a gun reliable enough to bother carrying.

If a $100 bill is your budget?
Buy a decent baseball bat, or a fairly good golf club driver.

That's the best protection you can afford for $100 bucks.

There are no $100 dollar firearms that work.

rc

Propforce
April 26, 2013, 02:59 AM
I picked up a very good condition S&W model 10 at a LGS for slightly over $200 ($220+tax). So it can be done. A .38 spcl offers you much more option than a .380 esp. if you need it for protection. A heavy (158 gr) wad cutter/ Semi-Wad Cutter can penetrate deeper than the 90 gr. typical in the .380 offerring.

I agree with others, save your lunch money and stop eating out for a week (pack your PBJ sandwiches) and you'll have that extra $100.

TennJed
April 26, 2013, 03:38 AM
There are no $100 dollar firearms that work.

rc
I picked up a used NAA mini 22lr in a pawn shop for $99 OTD a little over a year ago. It works and looks great. :) but I agree if you can find a way to bump your budget to $300 you expand you choices tremendously. If you can find a way to save $2 a day (skip that drive thru coffee) you will have it save in 3 months and it will be worth it in the long run. There are a LOT of really good handguns out there for $300

ArchAngelCD
April 26, 2013, 04:29 AM
If this is for protection from fairly large animals like wolves I would not choose a .380 Auto. IMO a .38 Special is a much better choice. You can shoot 158gr LSWC ammo and be well protected.

Try and and save up a few more bucks because you can find used S&W M10 revolvers for ~$250 and those are extremely reliable guns for carry.

Deltaboy
April 26, 2013, 11:02 AM
I vote for the 38 and you can find one but you will have to shop.

DNS
April 26, 2013, 02:32 PM
Another vote .38 Special.

I've seen several used Rossi revolvers in that price range. A new 2" or 3" one at Academy runs around $270. Christmas time they've sold for $200.

481
April 26, 2013, 03:31 PM
I'd also recommend the .38 Special over the .380 if for nothing more that the increased variety of available loads for it.

kBob
April 26, 2013, 03:53 PM
Of the two calibers asked about I would go with the .38 Special.

For one thing the ammunition is easier to find.

For another I believe ammo for the .38 SPL is cheaper than .380 when you do find it.

For a third the lightest factory loads in .38 SPL are more powerful than the typical .380 in my opinion.

.38 Spl is very easy to load for and does not care if you load a bit too short or with a bit too light ( and there fore short) bullet as the .380 does.

My wife used to freak out local college kids at the range by shooting plastic gallon milk jugs at 110 meters with such guns as the Rossi, Taurus, and Charter two inch revolvers.

I have a good bit of experience with .380 guns by Astra, Star, Beretta, Walther etc and I do like them and have carried .380 pistols for self defense. Still if I was to have only one gun I would opt for a .38 Special, even a fixed sighted two inch barreled steel one from Brazil or a good old American Charter arms revolver over most quality .380s. I do not think the Hi-point comes up to the level of any of the .380s I mentioned......

-kBob

marcodo
April 26, 2013, 04:03 PM
If the question is 380 or 38 specials for protection and plinking then my answer is neither...not a great choice choices for either

Save up and get a reliable used 9mm which will take care of both of your requests at a much cheaper ammo level

ZVP
April 26, 2013, 04:21 PM
.38 special only! SMall Autos are prone to jams rendering them unusable. Even a Misfire in a revolver, all you need do is advance to the next chamber. Believe me in the heat of the moment you will NOT want to be clearing a jam! Most small 380s are blow-back actions and failures to eject happen.
The avaulable ammo for the .38 and the ability to use varius types within the same cylinder oad is abother point for the revolver,
Your buget is too low. a decent .38 revolver will cost $250, Sorry ro burwt your bubble! Saving is HARD and waiting even HARDER! However you will get a better gun that'll lilely nrver fail you! Please wait and go with the .38 Special revolver.
I carry a M-36 Chief's Special or a 4 5/8" Ruger Vaquero stoked with various .38 losds snd still hsvr the option of the powerfull .357 Magnum for small Bear

ZVP

Teachu2
April 26, 2013, 04:37 PM
Given the budget, I'd go .22lr. If money is that tight, 40 cents a shot is very limiting. You can buy at least 5 times as much .22 for the same money.

Arkansas Paul
April 26, 2013, 04:44 PM
I only bring up the hi-point because there is one in my area for $100. I know a $100 more would boost my range

About the only thing I can think of in that price range would be a Taurus 82 police trade in. Sometimes you can find them for around the $200 mark.

If the question is 380 or 38 specials for protection and plinking then my answer is neither...not a great choice choices for either

On what planet is .38 Special not a good round for plinking and SD? It's ideal for plinking and more than adequate for SD.

1911Tuner
April 26, 2013, 05:46 PM
There are no $100 dollar firearms that work.

A couple years back, I bought a heavy-barrel Model 10 that was in mechanically perfect condition for 150 bucks out the door. It looked like it had been stored in a wet leather holster for a year because the finish was trashed...but the little gun was tight, accurate, and the action was smooth as glass.

medalguy
April 26, 2013, 06:04 PM
Definitely go for the .38 Special. It's much more powerful than the .380 and ammo is easier to find and cheaper. I hike quite a bit in the mountains and I carry a S&W Model 65 in stainless so I don't have to worry about bluing damage from carrying it. Mine is pretty heavily worn, and I believe it might have been a police trade-in, but it functions just fine. I bought this one about three years ago for $225 so deals are out there. The advantage of the Model 65 is that it can shoot either .38 Special ammo or the more powerful .357 magnum which is what I carry when out in the woods. There are bears and mountain lions around here and I think the .357 is entirely adequate for most anything I might encounter.

As for a suggestion to you, look around for a decent Rossi revolver or maybe a Taurus. Deals can be found within your $200 budget but you won't get a like-new gun for that amount.

lobo9er
April 26, 2013, 06:29 PM
22 MAG

Definitely enough for coyotes or a rabid raccoon. Little more expensive to shoot than 22lr but worth the extra dime. $15-$16 dollars for a 50 rounds of quality ammo. Pair it up with a used bolt action down the road.

[QUOTE]There are no $100 dollar firearms that work./QUOTE]
Mosin nagant.

Owlnmole
April 26, 2013, 06:52 PM
FWIW, Impact Guns has the compact 9mm Hi Point on sale at $180. That might actually be a cheaper option in the long run as it easier to find cheap milsurp 9mm ball ammo than almost any other caliber.

http://www.impactguns.com/hi-point-model-c-9-compact-pistol-00916-752334091604.aspx

wnycollector
April 26, 2013, 07:00 PM
About the only thing I can think of in that price range would be a Taurus 82 police trade in. Sometimes you can find them for around the $200 mark.

+1 on that.

Here (http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=338689155)is a excellent condition Taurus 82 for $195 shipped to your FFL.

ApacheCoTodd
April 26, 2013, 07:03 PM
Greater versatility in projectiles and loads
No inherent possible cycling issues of the semis
No magazines to; loose, rust, bend or fall out of the firearm

tomg303
April 26, 2013, 07:23 PM
Thanks guys I'm going with a 38. I already have a 22lr so I'm just looking for something new to shoot. I will have to hold off buying in order to find one in a good price range but that's alright cause my pop's Beretta M9 will be my companion until then. Thanks.

ArchAngelCD
April 27, 2013, 03:49 AM
Thanks guys I'm going with a 38. I already have a 22lr so I'm just looking for something new to shoot. I will have to hold off buying in order to find one in a good price range but that's alright cause my pop's Beretta M9 will be my companion until then. Thanks.
Sounds like a solid plan. Save up a little more and buy yourself a good quality used revolver that will last a good long while and be reliable.

Good luck with the hunt, actually that's half the fun...

Hunter2011
April 27, 2013, 08:24 AM
Well if concealability is not the issue, then my choice would be a .380 Auto. I just want to ask why do you compare a 380 auto against a .38 Special. The 9mmP can be just as small as a 380 auto, but with a much better round.

Why I choose the 380 auto? Firstly it does shoot more accurate than a .38 Special. I've got a Vector CP1 in 380 auto, my father has a .38 Special. No matter how hard I try with the .38, in single action mode, it can't even start to shoot as good groups as my 380 auto. I do believe with the right loads a 380 auto is at least as effective as a .38 Special, but this is debateble:D
I only shoot with one round in mine, Winchester Ranger law enforcement ammo. They have quite a bit of kick more than my other 380 rounds. I feel well armed with them.
And then there is the shotcount... 13 shots against just 5 or 6 of the .38.
I'm not saying the snubby is bad, I actually am still thinking of getting one as they are so much easier to conceal or carry in your jeans pocket. But I think for you, 380 auto.
Ps. Mine has never jammed once. And the CP1 is not the best brand out there. I paid $140 for mine if you convert my currency to dollars, secondhand that is.

straightShot
April 27, 2013, 09:10 AM
Good choice on the .38! Adding to this thread...

I would stay away from the .380, save my money, and get a good .38 spl revolver. When ammo was easy to find, .380 was often absent from the shelves in my area the last couple of years.

There are many choices for .38 spl revolvers, although you need to shop around since some can be priced pretty high. Once in awhile, you can come across a 1970's Model 10 or similar gun that is reasonably priced and is a good shooter.

Good luck!

kBob
April 27, 2013, 09:27 AM
I am not sure the CP1 in .380 was imported into the US. I thought all that were imported were 9x19mm.

Wasn't there also some sort of safety recall?

I generally find the .380s I have used to be more concealable than the .38 SPL revolvers as they are thinner and more comfortable to carry...... Even guns like the Star S, Colt 1908, or FN 1922 that are longer and taller seem to carry better on the waist or under the arm to me because of the flat ness. Now the later FN and Beretta double stacks are a different matter as the added bulk of the grip and the weight of those extra round being out in the butt make them for me less comfortable to carry. Naturally that little Davis 380 "brick" is not as carriable as some of the older designs either. I did find the old Beretta 1934 to carry in a shoulder holster better for me than a 2 inch snubbie .38 Special.

Still if I was going to have one gun and it had to be .38 Special or .380 and fill "all" my needs I would go with the .38 SPL for all the reasons I posted earlier.

As a .38 Special can hurl a heavier bullet at a higher velocity than a .380 I can not see how one might think the .380 might be even as powerful as a .38 Special.

I find the larger case of the .38 SPL to be easier to work with when hand loading as well and again so many options. My first handloading set up in .38 SPL was just an old Lee hand kit and a plastic mallet and it kept me in plinking ammo for ages. I used the drippings from an STP oil treatment bottle as case lube on a clean ink pad. Even then the Lee cost about the same as two boxes of ammo and quickly paid for itself. The included scoop used to gather powder from a tea cup proved useful for plinking loads.

-kBob

Hunter2011
April 27, 2013, 11:41 AM
Yes there was a recall. When I applied for my license it was send back, till it could be confirmed it was fixed. Apparently it could go off if dropped..
I feel energy has a lot to do with stopping an attacker. Just look how good a light 55grain .223 fares compared to almost any handgun cartridge, no matter the weight of the bullet.

.38 Special is just 200 fpe or lower, normal 158 grain ammo. My CP1 shoots a 95 grain bullet at 1035 fps min. for 224 fpe. Like I said, I would not feel undergunned with it as compared to a .38 Special. The .38 Special bullet does dwarf the 380 auto, but not in balistics.

bigdaa
April 27, 2013, 12:21 PM
I don't want to sound unkind, or smart in anyway, but $200 budget for a revolver isn't going to put much of a firearm in your hands! Most revolvers in my area start @ $300 - $350, don't get something that isn't going to be worth carrying. Just IMHO.
Why say it again if it's already been said.

I agree.

MedWheeler
April 27, 2013, 12:30 PM
I didn't know you already had one in .22LR. What is it, and have you already been packing it on the trail?

Keep poking around for those Taurus 82s; my local Gander Mountain (35 miles away) usually has a handful of them, all priced right at $200. A little more than online, but no transfer/shipping costs.) The few I've handled felt pretty tight, but I already have two service-sized .357 revolvers (one of which is a Taurus), so I really don't need another. However, I did check out a $300 S&W M37 3-incher the other day that I'm kind of kicking myself for not leaving with (it was in a different store.)

Furncliff
April 27, 2013, 02:54 PM
HiPoint for $100, what you get ... a $100 gun with A+ cs from the maker. I have a HP carbine.

CZ 82 for $225, what you get.... a $400+ gun proven by police and military (this is the new price of the same gun CZ made until a year or so ago, the CZ83) with A+ cs from CZUSA. Mine is 100% reliable. The gunsmiths at CZ are first class.

Smith & Wesson model 10 for $250, what you get... a gun that would sell for much more new. An almost unbreakable design that been around a long, long time, and proven itself with police and military. Customer service? you'll probably never need it if you buy a decent one to start with. Mine has been 100% reliable. The later models will shoot +P loads, if you want.

I wouldn't pay any attention to the caliber differences. JM.02

ArchAngelCD
April 28, 2013, 04:46 AM
Why I choose the 380 auto? Firstly it does shoot more accurate than a .38 Special. I've got a Vector CP1 in 380 auto, my father has a .38 Special. No matter how hard I try with the .38, in single action mode, it can't even start to shoot as good groups as my 380 auto. I do believe with the right loads a 380 auto is at least as effective as a .38 Special, but this is debateble:D
Not to sound like I'm getting on you but if you can't shoot a .38 Special as well as a .380 Auto that's your failing, not the handgun. I can shoot a J frame revolver double action as well as most shooters can fire a full size handgun of any type. I can shoot a J frame accurately to 50 yards, not bad for a belly gun, ya think? I'm not even saying I'm a good shot, I'm just willing to practice and put the time in and learn to shoot well with any handgun.

I'm not even sure how you can make such a blanket statement with all the different revolvers and semi-auto pistols out there.

toivo
April 28, 2013, 05:07 AM
Up until a few years ago you could get a police or security guard trade-in Smith & Wesson Model 10 or 64 for $200 or a little over. Now they're up around $250 -- when you can find them -- but still a good deal. A nice vintage S&W is an excellent gun, and the trade-ins tend to be in great mechanical condition. Cosmetically they tend to be a it beat-up, but that just means that you don't have to baby it.

The problem is that nobody has anything in stock right now. The market is crazy!

Hunter2011
April 28, 2013, 12:54 PM
Not to sound like I'm getting on you but if you can't shoot a .38 Special as well as a .380 Auto that's your failing, not the handgun. I can shoot a J frame revolver double action as well as most shooters can fire a full size handgun of any type. I can shoot a J frame accurately to 50 yards, not bad for a belly gun, ya think? I'm not even saying I'm a good shot, I'm just willing to practice and put the time in and learn to shoot well with any handgun.

I'm not even sure how you can make such a blanket statement with all the different revolvers and semi-auto pistols out there.
If you can shoot a snubby as good as a fullsize handgun, then you can shoot good. I have been told that a snubby is just as accurate as anything else. It is just darn difficult to shoot it well so easy as it might be the case with a pistol. Point is, I can't shoot it as well as I can with either my CP1 or my S&W 422. That is something I have experienced first hand. I do believe that with a lot of practice, my groups will shrink, but so they will do with my pistols as well.
I just feel 13 shots is better than 6. .38 Snubby will get my vote for concealability and reliability. But other than that, a pistol with twice the capacity, and better accuracy for the average or novice shooter, will get my vote everytime.

Arkansas Paul
April 28, 2013, 01:24 PM
Why I choose the 380 auto? Firstly it does shoot more accurate than a .38 Special. I've got a Vector CP1 in 380 auto, my father has a .38 Special. No matter how hard I try with the .38, in single action mode, it can't even start to shoot as good groups as my 380 auto.

I don't doubt that this may be the case for you. You may shoot autos better than revolvers, but there is nothing that makes the .380 more inherently accurate than the .38 Spcl.

BCRider
April 28, 2013, 02:08 PM
Given the budget, I'd go .22lr. If money is that tight, 40 cents a shot is very limiting. You can buy at least 5 times as much .22 for the same money.

This was also my thought as I was reading down the replies of the first page. If you can truly only afford this cheap a gun then the ammo for even .38Spl will be tough to pay for.

You mentioned that it'll be mostly a plinker/fun gun for the range or target practice. A .22 will provide a LOT more trigger pulls per buck's worth of ammo. And more trigger time means better shooting ability.

If this isn't the case and you're flush enough to actually easily afford a good quantity of ammo for whatever gun you buy then forget the cheapie options. Buy something with a known good record for decent enough accuracy and reliable handling and a nice trigger.

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