Budget Beaters

affordable handgun happiness

I know … I know … we often show fancy guns costing in the thousands in Handgunner. I like to look at old Packards too and can’t afford to buy one — but it’s fun to see what’s out there, right? This is something different. While one person’s “budget” gun might cost a bit more than another’s, the idea here is to not break the bank — but still deliver the goods. Pick and choose and make a decision. Or maybe two — since they might be “under” budget!

A relative newcomer to the crowded field of smallish concealed carry handguns, the Springfield Armory Hellcat’s primary boast is a capacity of 11+1 rounds of 9mm with its standard magazine, and 14 with the optional one. (Check out the cover feature!) This is good in a gun measuring only 4″ high, 6″ in length and 1″ wide. It sports Adaptive Grip Texture and a slide ready to accept an optic. If capacity and optics-ready are your thing, the Hellcat is worth a look. MSRP is $599 ($569 without the optic-ready slide).


Mossberg’s MC1sc, is a 6+1 9mm and Mossberg’s first handgun in a long while. Sporting a 3.4″ barrel and an extended trigger guard, the MC1sc weighs 22 oz. fully loaded and features clear plastic magazines so you can instantly see your round count. Take note of the snag-free sights, flat-profile trigger and aggressively textured grip panels, all in a gun measuring 6.25″ long, 4.3″ tall and 1.03″ wide. Some models are available with a cross bolt safety, a Viridian laser, or TRUGLO Tritium sights. Basic gun MSRP is $421.


SCCY CPX-2 pistols are DAO self-defense handguns with two 10-round magazines. They have the common features you’d find on any small, defensive handgun. But there’s a couple of exceptions. First, you can order one of 18 frame/grip colors, everything from black to purple to green, with two slide finishes — natural stainless and black nitride. You can also now get a version with an optic mounted! Measuring 6.01″ long, 5.06″ tall and 1.26″ wide, the CPX-2 will be one of the larger guns in this lot, but it’s still a subcompact and worth checking out. Our test guns have run just fine and seem a great value. MSRP is $269.


Ruger’s long been known for its line of single-stack nines — mainly because they’re reliable, accurate and affordable — and the company’s EC9s continues this legacy. A 7+1 9mm with a 3.12″ barrel, the EC9s weighs 17.2 oz. unloaded and measures 6″ long, 4.5″ tall and 0.9″ wide. Equipped with a trigger safety, manual safety and magazine disconnect, the EC9s provides more safety features than many other guns in the class. MSRP is $299. www.ruger.com


If you’re really interested in minimizing weight, a snub-nosed revolver such as the Charter Arms Off Duty might be worth considering. Weighing in at a measly 12 oz., this 5-round, 2″-barreled wheelgun loads up with .38 Special rounds. There’s no need to feel outgunned with only five rounds of .38 Special on board — at least you’ll have a loaded gun on you if something goes down. And the concealability, simplicity and reliability of a revolver — the reasons gun makers still make these things — may be just the ticket. MSRP for this two-tone model: $452.


Remington’s RM380 is a 6+1 .380 ACP sporting an overall smooth, rounded finish, the simplest of operation and smallish dimensions. A DAO with a long, smooth trigger pull, the RM380 also sports a light slide pull weight. It’s also one of the smallest guns in this list at 5.25″ long, 3.9″ tall and less than an inch wide. Also minimal — the sights. Machined into the slide, the rear notch and front ramp sights of course are not adjustable. But this is a gun you’ll use in very close proximity to your target. MSRP: $328.


Smith & Wesson continues its successful Shield offerings with the updated EZ series, featuring a slide easy to rack when chambering that first round. In addition, this gun offers a tactile loaded chamber indicator, grip safety, three-dot sights, reversible magazine release and an optional ambidextrous manual safety. This new model carries 8+1 rounds of 9mm, an upgrade from the previous in .380 ACP. It sports a 3.67″ barrel and the 6.8″ overall length make it the longest in the list. Sporting a tactical rail and weighing just over 23 oz., it’s a versatile handgun while still being a relative lightweight. We liked this model a lot. MSRP: $479.


Yup, Hi-Point. You can’t ignore the fact these homely but virtually 100-percent reliable handguns put affordable home defense into the hands of many who could not otherwise afford to protect their families. We’ve tested various models over the years and all have proven surprisingly accurate and reliable. Some models are in the $150 range at local gun stores. Put their non-traditional looks aside if you’re in need of a beater for the truck, or just don’t have the bucks to spend more. Our hats are off to the team at Hi-Point for making this price-point available to shooters.


The Taurus TX-22 is more than a simple .22 plinker. The sort of “full-size” polymer frame build means it can do double-duty as a trainer for your “real” 9mm defensive pistol. It’s a 16+1 capacity, 4.1″ barrel, adjustable sights, striker block/manual and trigger safeties and weighs a feathery 17.3 oz. It’s got a great trigger too and runs fine. Pair this with your fill-in-the-blank “real” gun and you get plenty of trigger time to practice. MSRP is only $349. www.taurususa.com


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