Cheapest handgun you would trust for defense...

Not open for further replies.
The cheapest and reliable pistol I had was the Sigma 9mm. Just under $300 new and I removed the torsion spring that made the trigger hard to pull. 16 rounds in hand and good accuracy made it a darn good pistol.
Let me start by saying I'm not looking for a super cheap pistol or anything, I'm fine dishing out the bills for a modern high capacity auto from a reputable maker.

BUT, I thought this may make an interesting discussion. If you were (or are) pinching every penny, and want/need a handgun to defend self and family if such a sittuation should arise, what would it be?

For me, I think it would be the good ole Makarov or one of its cousins/clones. They seem to still be available for a little over 200 so I suppose around 250-275 once shipped and transferred. They are reliable, smallish, and fire a relatively useful round.

So.. what's the cheapest handgun you would trust?

If I had to buy a handgun to defend self and family and had the opportunity to test it extensively, there are many possibilities. If it had to work untested, it would be a G19.
^^^^ If it had to work untested it would be a revolver.

The cheapest gun I have ever carried for self defense was either a Kel-Tec P11 or a P32---don't remember which cost less. Both are super reliable. Maybe I just got lucky but my luck with Kel-Tec has been 100%.

If I were recommending a SD gun to someone concerned with getting the lowest cost option, and who I knew wouldn't run enough ammo through an auto to break it in, I would recommend a revolver. New would be one of the Armscor Colt clones, used would be a S&W police trade. Buds has some model 64 DAO guns for around $300.
Last edited:
Wrong question. The right question is "What is the best pistol (and ammo) I can possibly afford that meets my needs for self-defense?"

If you start off with cheap, then the question becomes "How little can I spend and maybe get a gun (and ammo) that might work when I need it?"

(Don't forget that "best" pistol does NOT mean gold inlaid, engraved, or a presentation piece. If you use the gun you will lose it, at least for a time, and it is better to have a plain Glock being kicked around in the police evidence room than a museum quality $12,000 gun.)

I bought a Taurus 85 as a poor college student. Was also going to go with a Bersa at that time (back then they were all steel).

Trusted my life to the Taurus 85 for over 20 years with no problems. Still have it, still carry it occasionally. If I had bought the Bersa and put enough trouble-free rounds through it, I would have been fine with that too.

If I am to trust it untested, I would prefer to go with a revolver as some others have already stated.

Lastly, my most expensive new handgun (from a "reputable manufacturer") is also the only one I ever had to send back to the mothership so far. Anybody can make a lemon. Just some food for thought.
I wouldn't want a 9X18 because I can't walk into Walmart and buy ammunition for it

Having said that if I was looking for a less expensive gun I'd start hitting pawn shops and places like Stop, Drop and Shop a shop that deals exclusively in used guns in Colorado Springs. What I ended up with would depend on what I found. A Llama beats a pointy stick.
Last edited:
I think that "purchase price" is only one of the factors of "cost of ownership". My thinking is that you need to look at the total cost of ownership. Such things as maintenance (parts/labor), ammo cost, and accessory cost (e.g. holster, sights, ... ) For someone that buys a gun and shoots one box a month, the equation is very different than someone that will practice weekly and take regular training. The cost of ammo also varies greatly based on location. Locally, I am seeing .380ACP at Academy at a lower price point than 9mm. Maybe, just a short term condition but that is unusual most places.
I use a Ruger P95 as my home defense gun and I bought that one for $255. My CCW gun is a Ruger LCP and those can be had for ~$225.
Local gun shop any snub in 38 or 357 used,some great deals to be had and you won’t know if you don’t visit your local shop.
The cheapest gun I've carried for self-defense is a Ruger LCP. It only cost me $200 and ran like a champ. I've owned cheaper guns, but was never willing to completely trust them.
Right now, a number of surplus police/security 3 inch Taurus 82 .38 Specials with lanyard rings are on Gun Broker for $250.00 "Buy It Now" plus $35.00 shipping and whatever transfer fee your FFL charges. I've ordered two of them, one for my SIL and one for my daughter. But then again I've had good luck with Taurus revolvers over the years.
FB "Radom" P-64 is another Eastern Block gun that was ahead of its time and very well made. The main draw back is a very heavy double action trigger pull.
Its hard to put a dollar amount on trusting your life to something. I have seen $100 pistols run perfectly and $1400 guns run like crap. It just depends. To stick the O.P. I currently carry a Kel-Tec P-32 as a backup I got used for $179. If I could have gotten it for $100 I would have and still trusted my life to it.
In this case, not only are Ruger .22LR autos the cheapest guns I would bet my life on, if I could only have one handgun in my bugout bag, it would be a Ruger .22LR auto (preferably a Mark II). When I go to a range, I put clip after clip through these guns without a hiccup! Not only are they inexpensive, they're reliable and ammo is both inexpensive and effective for use against human adversaries. They can put an impressive amount of lead in the air in a short period of time and being shot with a .22LR round is both painful and surprisingly lethal. And of course no one who's sane would want to want to get shot with one. (My dad grew up in the country and was so poor he had to use a .22LR for everything. He carried his rifle with him two miles to school, where he'd leave it at the office. After school, he'd carry it home and shoot squirrels and other game for supper. They called the diminutive round "the doctor's nightmare" because a .22LR bullet could go in one place and end up almost anywhere. And without X-Rays, the exploratory surgery alone could kill you.)

I've heard many pundits say that the .22LR round simply lacks stopping power, but I used to collect stories of people who used it for self defense. And though I'm sure all rounds fail at some point, I was surprised by how many people died from just one or two hits from a .22LR. Heck, I was even surprised by the success of the tiny .25ACP round, which I would really hate to bet my life on! But though I expected to see many failures in news accounts, I kept seeing successes. But I have to admit the vast majority of these were in the intended victim's home, on the victim's turf. I'm sure it wouldn't have been so successful in a dark alley with a crackhead bad guy.

But I do have more faith than I perhaps should in the .22LR. As I've recounted elsewhere, I knew a guy who came very close to dying when he was hit by a .22LR round fired by a kid from just over a mile away, who, with a friend, had stopped their car to test fire an auto pistol. The police never caught either of them, but found the ejected cases and were able to find some witnesses. Even from that distance, the guy who was shot said he felt like he was stung in the back by a large wasp. He was on a ladder and passed out trying to call 911. He woke up in a hospital and the doctor told him he had come very close to death. So I have a lot of faith in a .22LR pistol, or rifle. When one can put eleven rounds in the air in about four seconds, that would get my attention. If one needed a gun for the trail or for camping or for going cross country alone, I'd look for a good, used .357 revolver.

But in the house, a .22LR auto is fine. You can buy a lot of ammo for just a little.
FB "Radom" P-64 is another Eastern Block gun that was ahead of its time and very well made. The main draw back is a very heavy double action trigger pull.

Yes, all steel and very well made. Hard DA and sharp recoil.
Wolff Springs help. Otherwise, treat it as a SA.
Wish we had an option of a slightly longer barrel.
Yes, all steel and very well made. Hard DA and sharp recoil.
Wolff Springs help. Otherwise, treat it as a SA.
Wish we had an option of a slightly longer barrel.
I have trigger finger in my right index finger. I had it released with Cortisone in 2011 and it's been good since. I use a joysick mouse with thumb click to avoid aggravating it. I no longer play paintball or laser tag (what first really set it off acutely the first time--I'm sure computer use was the main problem). Today in real life the only consequence is that on some days my Radom is SA with my right hand but always DA with my left hand. That first DA trigger pull weight is crazy. Even my M11A1 and Mosen seem light in comparison.

cheapest gun for MY life to rely on? Browning.HP...but I seem to place a higher value on my life ..than some others I see posting
But the question of "cheapest gun you would trust for defense" is a bit overly simplistic, is it not?

I mean, no gun is actually 100% reliable. But suppose something like a $500 Glock and $1000 sig are as close to reliable statistically, as they can get... Well if reliability is equal, there's no practical reason to spend the extra $500 on a "better" gun.

I guess what I'm saying is... "Cheaper" doesn't always mean "worse", or less reliable necessarily?

EDIT: For example, I wouldn't totally trust a Hi-Point, but not based on price... Now suppose I'm talking about a carbine for home defense and I'm limited to 10 rounds. The Hi-Point 995 would serve me just as well as a Beretta CX4 storm, since both are pretty reliable despite the price difference...
Not open for further replies.