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Top 5 CCW dependable/reliable bargain handguns under $300. Your thoughts?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by 40SW, Aug 7, 2007.

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  1. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    As an NRA certified pistol instructor, I get alot of students who are on a budget. Being in Florida, I typically encounter young students (over 21, college, tech school, vocational) and also senior citizens who are on a fixed
    income ( did I say Florida. lol). I have had hundreds of students who have taken the NRA First Steps handgun orientation course, handling basic topics like safety, technical aspects of different handguns, ammo, cleaning, etc.etc. A common denominator that arises is that many novice shooters are under the false impression that a handgun needs to be expensive in order to be reliable, or that they have to spend over $500 to get a prominent and nationally recognized brand like Smith & Wesson, Glock, or Colt, in order for the handgun to be dependable, shootable, and reliable. Nothing can be further from the truth. So I have taken the time to compile a list of handguns that I have encountered, personally own, have received personal testimonials from others, and extensive experience from a personal shooting perspective and others' feedback. Here is the list as follows.

    1. Bersa Thunder .380ACP. Firmly under $300, respectable cartridge, dependable as heck, conceallable., shootable, accurate, and a BARGAIN. dozens of students have qualified with it. Overall feedback. A+++++
    dominant features for a small pistol: dependable and accurate!

    2. Russian or Bulgarian Makarovs 9x18. Firmly under $250 another decent and respectable cartridge. Controlled recoil. DEPENDABLE AS HELL!!!, shootable, compact, and available. Feedback from dozens of students. A++++++++
    dominant features for a small pistol: dependable and accurate!

    3. Rossi Revolvers in .38spcl or .357MAG. Firmly under $250, Great cartridge. Excellent concealment. Great feel. Not the best on accuracy, but great for inside 10 yards. Dozens of students praise the durability and nice grips.

    overall A grade.

    4. CZ52 in 7.62x25 : Firmly under $200: Devastating cartridge and very affordable. Drawbacks include heavy recoil, overpenetration potential and larger size , not the best for concealment, but a great nightstand gun, superb stopping power and very affordable, About 8 students out of hundreds have given me solid feedback.

    Overall A-

    5. Beretta Bobcat (.22LR, .22ACP). Firmly under $250.
    Positivies:
    Affordable. Very concealable. Tip up barrel for arthritis challenged folks who cant rack a slide. Women love these for the purse.

    Negatives:
    Poor stopping power, lower calibers only. Lack of accuracy outside 10 yards, (but not meant for it, so I explain politely).

    overall B+++

    Your thoughts on my top 5 for CCW
     
  2. Novus Collectus

    Novus Collectus Member

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    Just got my first CZ82. Put that one on your list because it is reliable, very accurate, better built than many Makarovs I read, has a twelve round capacity and still only slightly thicker than some 8 shot Makarovs.
     
  3. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    As I recal, the CZ82 is also chambered in 9x18. Have not seen too many.
    ,but I do have a CZ83 chambered in .380ACP. Great gun. Will add it for sure. The only drawback is that the CZ83 runs about $375 new, still a bargain if you ask me, especially if you can find a nice used one around $300
     
  4. armed85

    armed85 Member

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    You can find a used Smith & Wesson Model 10/M&P revolver for $300 in excellent condition or the same gun for less than $300 in good condition. A newbie could search Gunbroker.com and get a good deal without an expert by his or her side. S&W Model 10s are great shooters and great values.

    A more realistic budget for a new gun is $400 in my opinion. You could pick up a Smith & Wesson 442/642 snub nosed revolver, Ruger P-series, or CZ 75. The Ruger SP101, to my surprise, is over $400.

    I'm afraid inflation has put an end to the $300 bargains.
     
  5. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Let's dissect these options a little:

    Lot's of folks have these and like them, but they are fairly bulky and heavy (and relatively light on ammunition capacity, given their weight). Lots of 9mm and .40 cal pistols with similar size/weight, though most are over $300.

    The Mak's have the same attributes and detractors as the Bersa.

    Rossi's are not known for long-term durabilty, but would probably be fine for the broke college kid.

    The CZ-52 is a very good pistol, but not for CCW. It is bulkier than most other full-size guns, and the design does not lend itself to quick mag changes. And while the cartridge is powerful, there is a lack of data (even anecdotal) regarding terminal perfomance of the 7.62x25.


    The Bobcat is a very high quality pistol, but I would never recommend anything smaller than a .380 for self or home defense. If one cannot manipulate the slide on a .380 or 9mm auto, get a revolver.


    In summary, most of these are decent choices, but I can think of many firearms I've bought for under $300 that rank higher. Most were used, but not that difficult to find in similar shape for similar money. I've picked up used S&W model 19's for under $200, and no one will argue that a Rossi is better than a Smith.
     
  6. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Member

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    +1 machIVshooter
     
  7. brett30030

    brett30030 Member

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    I'm not a caliber snob, but i have to agree to the .22 being small for SD. Although Ghandi may disagree!
     
  8. modifiedbrowning

    modifiedbrowning Member

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    MachIV, so what do you consider slender and light? I have a Firestorm .22 and it is in my opinion tiny. Is a revolver less bulky than a Bersa or simply shorter in length?
     
  9. Durby

    Durby Member

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    The CZ 82/83 is good, but all steel so a little heavy. Mine is a .380, paid 300 for it. My girlfriend can shoot all day, and be accurate with it (no flinching). She also has a Colt Police Positive 38 Spl, 4 inch barrel (and mother of pearl grips). Any of those small Colts, Agent, Detective Special etc. go for 200-300 bucks, depending on condition and location. She loves how simple the revolver is.
    I would rather go the .25 Auto route before I went with a .22, we have a Berreta Panther 25 that we can both shoot pretty good, but wouldn't bother with for HD or self defense unless it was my only option, I see them at gun shows and on consignment, anywhere from 125-250 bucks, but changing mags is no fun, controls can be hard to manipulate, slide can bite hand, etc.
     
  10. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    Excellent feedback!! I agree. Keep in my mind these are not necessarily my first choices but the most popular I have encountered in my geographic area in that price range. As far as a minimum of .380ACP for CCW, I agree 100%, but some of my students, especially senior citizens, are extremely recoil sensitive, ie arthritis, etc. Many choose lower calibers under the notion that a lower caliber is better than no gun at all, I agree, Although I do help them overcome their recoil and dexterity challenges the best I can, ie, better grips aka Pachmayr, Hogue,etc. I also agree that a 25ACP would be a better choice due to more reliable ignition. Obviously centerfire is more reliable than rimfire, but the .22LR in something like a CCI stinger is better than nothing, and a .22LR offers slightly more capacity. The tip up barrel semis like the Beretta Bobcat, Tomcat, and the Taurus clones are also very popular BUGS (backup guns). Alot of bargains to be had for sure, be they new or used, students have tremendous options under $350, my three main points are.
    1. Don't have to spend a fortune for a reliable and dependable/accurate/shootable CCW.
    2. A nationally recognized name brand is not necessarily superior to a milsupr/ slightly used/ less recognizable brand. Firearms models and makers should be evaluated on a case by case basis. ie. Both Smith and Wesson and Bersa make lemons every now and then, pick the model with the best track record and the one best for you.
    3. For folks with recoil sensitive challenges, medical/dexterity issues, a compromise in caliber reduction is better than no gun, but my message to them is PICK THE HIGHEST CALIBER IN THE BEST GUN YOU CAN SHOOT MOST EFFECTIVELY AND GROW PROFICIENT WITH AND THAT YOU CAN CONCEAL WELL. DO YOUR HOMEWORK, DON'T LET GUNSHOP SALESMAN SELL A 75 YEAR OLD WIDOW WITH ARTHRITIS A 10MM GLOCK .

    Feedback welcome.
     
  11. kludge

    kludge Member

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    1) Ruger Security/Speed/Sevice Six .357 Magnum
    2) Kel-Tec P-11 9mm
     
  12. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    I've had very positive personal experience with Rugers and excellent feedback from students accross the entire application spectrum.
    Kel Tec is another story, its been a mixed bag. Never heard any complaints about Ruger from students, and my own personal experience has been positive. As far as Kel Tec, PLENTY OF COMPLAINTS from students and have had bad experiences with the first generation P11. Trigger and firing pin problems mostly. Students have had similar complaints. Not bashing Kel Tec, but will never purchase one again. Customer Service was rated as excellent, but reliability and quality suffered greatly. , and therefore my image of them.
     
  13. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Used Ruger Service Sixs. Last one I purchased (December '06) I pled down to $225. If you are lucky you can catch them for $200.

    What's more a Ruger Service Six is the firearm that my own mother, age 68, uses.
     
  14. Maj.Striker

    Maj.Striker Member

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    I too have to ask that question...A Bersa Thunder .380 is not by any stretch of the imagination, "bulky." Ok, maybe if you compare it to a Deringer...
     
  15. philbo

    philbo Member

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    Not just novice shooters unfortunately. :uhoh:

    The big disadvantage to the Bersa, Mak and Cz that I see is the cost of ammo making the most important aspect of CCW, PRACTICE, more unlikely.

    Given the demographic you work with, I would find it interesting on how they chose the pistol they are using as well. (i.e., input from other family members, shooters, what they have read. etc.) Any info 40sw?
     
  16. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    Regarding the Bersa .380ACP, I agree, not bulky at all. I carry mine inside the pocket (cargo), uncle mikes holster. Very comfortable. They also make a CCW version (low profile sites, thinner magazine baseplate, etc.).
     
  17. GEM

    GEM Member

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    My experience with the tip up 22 LRs is that they are prone to jamming. The guns may take work and tuning to get running. The 25s don't have those problems. As this is a solution for the arithritic, the stopping power rants aren't really relevant as the other choice is no gun.
     
  18. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    Philbo:
    Excellent question. My business cards are setup with several gunshops, I also get referals from former students, from range facilities that I have relationships with ,etc.
    Many of the students already own firearms and are just interested in getting their CWP, many also have sufficient financial means to get what they want, aka Glock, Springfield, S&W, Taurus, etc. , but the category that started this thread refers to students that are under tighter financial means, aka fixed income seniors, college/vocational folks, etc. A referal situation may arise something like this.
    Student calls me on the phone:
    Student:
    "Hello, this is Steve, I got one of your business cards from BLANK BLANK gunshop. I've been around guns before, but would like to get my CWP license so that I can carry concealed, can you help me. ? I am an student at BLANK BLANK vocational tech, money is tight, but I want something reliable and dependable, can you help me with a suggestion and can you help me get the permit? I can't spend more than $250 on a gun, whats my best choice in that category ?"

    40SW:
    " Glad that BLANK BLANK gun shop refered you, they are nice folks, I have the necessary paperwork and we can administer the NRA First Steps Course that is required for your CWP kit, and you will learn alot from the course, regardless of your proficiency level. As far as being within your budget, there are a number of choices, we will go over the advantages and dissadvantages of both revolvers and semi automatics during the course, but good options are the Russian & Bulgarian Makarovs, The Bersa Thunder, Taurus revolvers, etc,etc, You may want to browse the gunshop and examine the options that I have disscussed, I can bring several to the range where we will do the course, and you can actually experience shooting them. Whatever you decide, you will make an informed choice based on what suits your lifestyle, your wardrobe, your surroundings, etc. We can disscuss that in more detail when we meet, but the ones I mentioned above will fit your budget and are reliable. etc,etc
    You get the idea.
     
  19. baz

    baz Member

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    A new Taurus 85 can be had for just under $300. It lacks the versatility of a Rossi in 357, but might a bit better made (I know Rossi's are now made by Taurus, so maybe not), and a bit more accurate.
     
  20. Redneck with a 40

    Redneck with a 40 Member

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    Kel-Tec P-11, can be had for under $300 new in box. 10+1 in 9mm with the capability to shoot +P ammo, can't beat it.
     
  21. slow944

    slow944 Member

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    I usually carry a KT P3AT in an Uncle Mike's pocket holster, but the recoil from it can be a little stout. I also had a P11, but because of the long trigger pull I sold it. I've found that the Taurus MILPRO series of guns work very well. I have both a PT140 and PT145. The PT140 has a very sharp recoil to me, but the PT145 has more of a push. I traded for the PT140 but I bought the PT145 new at a cost of $309+tax. Plus it comes with 2 10rd mags and a mag loader in the box. I recently requalified for my CHL with the PT145 and it was perfect. I would recommend to people on a tight budget the PT145 as the recoil is not like the PT140, and it's a larger caliber.
     
  22. fletcher

    fletcher Member

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    After more people have a chance to shoot it and Kel-Tec tweaks it a little, I'd consider the PF-9 in this category. It's probably the smallest 9mm you can get for under $300.
     
  23. JesseL

    JesseL Member

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    My Daewoo DH40 .40S&W that I carry everyday was $280.

    My wife's Arcus 94 9mm was $230.

    Both NIB.
     
  24. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    The P3AT, at half the width and one third the weight of the Bersa, and the same magazine capacity with the one round extension.

    Even the KT P-11 is lighter and slimmer than the Thunder, and it packs 3 more rounds of a much more potent cartridge. And the P-11 still comes in cheaper than the Bersa, also boasting a no questions lifetime warranty.

    IMO, the P3AT set new standards for deep concealment .380s, one that no other manufacturer as come close to matching. The little Rorbaugh 9mm and the NAA/Seecamp .380's are close in size, but still considerably heavier and a bit thicker (as well as much more expensive).
     
  25. 40SW

    40SW Member

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    All excellent points about Kel Tecs, but many students have expressed dissatisfaction with the triggers. The Bersas offer a decocker as well as DA/SA. Much better trigger as well, so in the end, what the Bersas offer more in shootability and trigger superiority, Kel Tecs offer more in weight reduction and conceallability. Pretty much a wash, but in the end, I would take a Bersa over a Kel Tec, personally.
     
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