Should I Buy a Cheap Gun?

By Suzanne Wiley

I’ve worked in the firearms industry for over a decade. My role has always been to provide content beneficial to potential customers looking to buy a firearm, accessories or ammo. As a new gun owner myself when I entered the industry, I’ve always really enjoyed writing articles geared toward the beginner and for those considering their first firearm purchase. I mean, as I was learning about my job, I was also learning about living a lifestyle I had no introduction to previously. We were on this journey together!

Now after years of growth in both my profession and marksmanship, I still enjoy teaching beginners safe gun handling and shooting fundamentals, as well as walking them through the process of their first gun purchase.

The Kimber Custom Royal II 1911 has an MSRP of $1,785
The Kimber Custom Royal II 1911 has an MSRP of $1,785

I always recommend renting or borrowing a particular firearm (even for those who have owned guns for years) before buying. Guns are a major investment and just like a car, lose value when driven off the lot.

I’m not shy admitting my own fallacy. I bought a rather expensive (for my budget) Smith & Wesson revolver once without taking it for a spin beforehand and soon regretted the purchase. I didn’t own that gun very long and had to sell it for much less than I bought it for—especially since the barrel never really had much chance to foul.

As it stands now, renting or borrowing a firearm is no big deal. If a friend owns a firearm you’re interested in, simply ask them to lend it to you and off you go to the range—potentially saving you hundreds, if not a thousand dollars, and keeping frustration and regret at bay.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw's Tweet opposing universal background checksThere’s been a lot of Twitter talk recently after Rep. Dan Crenshaw mentioned universal background checks would prevent letting him lend a firearm to a friend in need of protecting themselves. Unfortunately, the misinformed took that to mean legal gun owners like lending guns to prohibited persons. There are many reasons why gun owners lend or let friends and family borrow firearms—allowing a prohibited person access to a firearm is not one of them.

For example, I just borrowed a high-end shotgun on opening weekend to hunt dove. I’m not really a shotgunner and I’m unwilling to drop coin on an appropriate shotgun for one day of shooting birds. Plus, a gun like that is just not in my budget.

Assuming that someone who doesn’t already own a firearm can’t pass a background check, as well as believing that anyone who wants to own a gun can afford a gun, is a very privileged way of thinking.

I saved for months when I bought my latest concealed carry handgun—which cost double my previous gun purchase. Buying a new gun isn’t like running by the Dollar Spot at Target. Sometimes it takes sacrifice to get exactly what you want. Sometimes it means settling for something else.

Since I’ve been in that boat more times than I’ve liked, I completely understand when budget constraints prevent you from buying something you really need. That being said, I would never hesitate to lend a gun to a friend who I knew was legal to own one until they were able to purchase one of their own—especially if their lives were threatened. I’ve had friends in this situation—needing a handgun for home protection but without much money to spend.

I’m asked repeatedly “how much should I spend on a gun?” It’s a very difficult question to answer. We have a saying in this industry, “buy once, cry once,” which is generally true. H&K, FN, SIG Sauer, Kimber…these firearm manufacturers all lay on the more expensive end of the firearm spectrum and though I’ve shot one or two of these guns that were pretty much heavy paperweights, you really can’t go wrong if you choose one of these higher-end guns. One the other hand, are cheap guns worth it? Will you regret buying a sub-$300 cheap handgun for home defense?

Budget guns have saved lives and will continue to save lives. So, should you buy a cheap gun? Let’s look by examining the easiest of the cheap guns to pick on—the Hi-Point.

Quite a few years ago, at a defensive pistol course, I was put beside a woman carrying a Hi-Point CF 380. I was carrying a (borrowed) Glock 42. We shot the course. Both our guns ran equally without malfunction and in fact, she scored better than me. I asked her how she liked her Hi-Point. She told me she loved it. When asked about the GLOCK 42, my answer was, “yeah. It’s alright.” (I’m a fan of GLOCK. I just prefer the GLOCK 17 or 43 over the .380 ACP model 42.) Also, a colleague of mine recounts a story of a Hi-Point saving lives from an attacking bear.

Matt from Demolition Ranch pretty much destroyed a Hi-Point and it kept running:

When keyboard commandos stop their typing and firearm experts and influencers strip their bias, you’ll find that the Hi-Point gets good reviews. They’re reliable, have a lifetime warranty and have a street price of about $150 for the 9mm. To many, this cheap gun is worth it.

Of course, the Hi-Point isn’t the only cheap or affordable handgun out there. For guns that retail for less than $200 and $300, the SCCY is worth a shot, so is the Ruger EC9s, Kel-Tec PF-9, and the Armscor M200 .38/.357 and Charter Arms revolvers. I have trusted friends, gun buddies and coworkers who have all bought and carried these firearms.

You know, good guns aren’t just for the rich. We all deserve to defend ourselves! Affordability is all relative when it comes down to it. If you can confidently shoot accurately with it and the gun proves itself reliable, then why should its price tag matter?

Do you have a cheap gun? Tell us about it in the comment section.

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