9 Best Handguns For $500 Or Less
Everyone knows you can spend a lot on a handgun and get something good, but what about the best handguns for under $500? Not everyone has a huge amount they can spend on a carry gun, so there have to be some serious bargain shooters out there.
You bet there are. In fact, you can get some shockingly good handguns for $500 or less and from some of the biggest names in the business to boot. Here are 9 of the best handguns for less than $500.
S&W M&P Shield
The S&w M&P Shield has practically become the default choice of concealed carry pistol in the past few years. In fact, it is the single most popular make and model of holster sold by Alien Gear. It isn't too hard to see why.
The single-stack Shield is very slim, and along with the compact length and height, you have a pistol that is shockingly easy to conceal and carry. It also happens to shoot incredibly well, in fact belying its compact size.
Accessories and aftermarket support are plentiful. Given also that the Shield is in pretty much every gun store these days...anyone could pick one up. Prices in excess of $500 would actually be shocking; you'll rarely find stores asking more than $450 for one. Though you can find one for much cheaper (less than $350 is not unheard of at all) it's money well-spent.
Springfield XDs 3.3
Springfield Armory's single-stack compact - the Springfield XDs 3.3-inch barrel version - has all the same virtues as the Shield and other single-stack 9mm pistols. It's light, it's easy to carry and it shoots very well.
The XDs does have Springfield's grip safety, though it's easily deactivated by just holding the thing. Like the Shield, aftermarket support is generous, so you can upgrade nearly anything. It's also easily found in most gun stores, though you may end up paying a little more for it. MSRP is $499, but an XDs can be easily found for less than $450 in many instances.
Taurus PT111 Millennium G2
You could actually get two Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 handguns for $500. They're very easily found for $250 or less. You might think that the cheaper price tag means a cheaper gun that probably can't hang with the Shield, XDs or Glock 26 since it's a Taurus.
And you would be dead wrong.
The G2 has gained a reputation for being the best budget gun available, running as reliably and shooting as well as guns with twice the sticker. Not as well considering; as well, period. For half the money or less. You'll deal with a bit less in attention to detail, but if you bought a plastic striker gun for aesthetics...you have issues.
It's barely bigger than the Shield, but it holds 12+1 of 9mm or 10+1 of .40 S&W, and it's easier for shooters with larger hands to get a full grip on. Honestly, you could do worse...but it's hard to imagine doing better for the same price.
Canik (pronounced "janik") is a Turkish gun company that blindsided everyone by producing a poly-frame striker gun that shoots as accurately and runs as reliably as Glocks, Smith and Wessons and every other plastic fantastic you can name for go for very little money. The flagship is the TP9SA.
Granted, the TP9SA is a service gun in every regard, but it could be concealed and carried as it is light enough for daily use. You get an 18+1 of 9mm capacity and it happens to use easily-acquired aftermarket parts, so you can replace and upgrade various bits with relative ease.
A TP9SA will shoot as well as any Glock...but MSRP is $399. You can find them for $350 or less...basically anywhere...and you will find yourself wondering why you paid so much for other guns.
The Ruger LC9s is an evolution of the LC9, a subcompact 9mm version of the LCP. (The LCP is chambered for .380, the LC9 in - duh - 9mm.) However, the LC9s has a lighter striker trigger rather than the stiff DAO operation of the LCP and LC9. You also get adjustable sights, which the original models also lack.
It runs $479 MSRP, so expect about $400 or so.
You won't be doing any long-range shooting; this mouse gun does its best work up close and personal. However, there aren't too many quality pocket pistols for reasonable asking prices...but this one is, and for less than the tiny Sig and Kimber guns that other micro guns are judged by.
Smith and Wesson J-Frame
The concealed carry revolver will probably never go out of style, and the archetype of the breed is the Smith and Wesson J-Frame. The basic guise is a pint-size double action pistol (though you can cock it for SA) carrying 5 shots of .38 Special. Everything you need, nothing you don't.
Except you can get a lot for less than $500. Thing about Smith and Wesson's revolvers is S&W makes a broad range of them, with many iterations catering for various tastes. There are fully 15 models of the J-Frame revolver for less than $500. Lightweight alloy frames, shrouded hammers, DAO models, even pink grips if you want them; the entry level models have all of those options available.
Bersa Thunder 380
The Bersa Thunder 380 has two distinct advantages over the Walther PPK that it's clearly based on. First, you can actually find them in stores because Walther seems to either sell out of PPK pistols all the time or not make too many to begin with. Second, you won't go broke getting one either.
Expect to spend $300 or less on a Thunder. It's a tiny .380, this much is true, and the double-action trigger is not going to be as light or crisp as a custom 1911...but it will go "bang" when you need it to.
Walther's relatively new pistol, the Walther Creed, was devised to offer an entry-level model to meet more budgets than some of Walther's other offerings while getting them hooked on the features that other Walther pistols are known for. You get the incredibly comfortable ergonomics. The Walther-tuned trigger that shames pistols that go for twice the price.
You also get 16+1 rounds of 9mm in a compact(ish) pistol - it's only a hair bigger than a Glock 19 - that could be carried every day by most people. As MSRP is only $399, that means you can get into a very decent poly striker gun for not much at all.
One of the most overlooked of the subcompact poly striker guns is the Beretta Nano, and many reviewers have opined that it should be given a second look.
The Nano retails for just under $500, and is said to shoot just as well as the Shield, the XDs and the Glock 43, despite hardly anyone paying attention to it. Beretta doesn't cut corners with quality, as their handguns are usually built with service markets in mind. It makes a dandy backup gun or concealed carry pistol, so have a look if you're after a subcompact striker pistol but don't necessarily get drawn to the usual suspects.