Cheap handguns are a dime a dozen, especially on the used firearms market. You can go to CheaperThanDirt, Bud’s GunShop, or GunCritic, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see more than a few used handguns typically selling for half the price of their brand new counterparts, sometimes even less.
But secondhand deals aren’t predictable. If you’re broke and you see a really good deal today, say a slightly used Glock 19 Gen 1 selling for $350 which is quite possibly the best deal you can find anywhere online, chances are there are thousands of other people looking at it, and at least one of them will end up purchasing it before the day’s over. Who knows when you’ll see something like that again? I think the last time I saw one was over a year ago.
By the same token, if you have $350 that you can freely spend on a handgun without the wife getting berserk and you don’t find any good deals on the used market today, how long do you think you can hold on to it? If you absolutely have to have a concealed carry handgun today to defend yourself and your loved ones with, and all you really have is $350 and you don’t see any Gen 1 Glocks on the used market, what are your options?
That’s what this topic is all about. If you absolutely have to have a handgun today that is combat-ready but you only have $350 or less and can’t find any good deals on the used market, here’s a list of what, in my opinion, are the Top 5 Cheap Handguns That Don’t Jam.
Just as a quick disclaimer, the word “cheap” to me doesn’t mean “cheaply made”, at least not as far as the handguns in this topic are concerned. Cheap simply means affordable, and while we may have different views on whether a particular handgun is affordable or not, I think for the majority of us working a 9-5, $350 is a relatively low price for a brand new handgun, especially in today’s market where’s there’s a recession but the government denies it. And with that out of the way, here are my Top 5 Cheap Handguns that Don’t Jam.
Stoeger Industries, after its acquisition by Beretta in the year 2000 and subsequently becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Benelli USA, developed a reputation for rugged, tough, and highly reliable shotguns. The Stoeger STR-9C isn’t a shotgun but it isn’t any different from its boomstick brothers as far as durability and dependability.
Chambered for the 9mm, the STR-9C is a striker-fired handgun that is only slightly bigger than a Glock 26 and features a similar black nitride finish that makes it highly resistant to corrosion. Its frame is designed to use interchangeable backstrap grips for a custom fit, while its barrel which measures three and eight-tenths of an inch allows for easy concealment and quick draw.
As far as ergonomics, the STR-9C’s grip angle is engineered to match its drift-adjustable three-dot sight system, which, combined with its low-bore axis design, reduces muzzle rise for quicker target reacquisition and faster follow-up shots. The company offers optional Tritium night sights for low light shooting.
The aggressive front and back slide serrations provide a tight purchase on the slide so it can be easily racked with or without gloves. A smooth-pulling, crisp trigger houses an internal safety for extra security.
In addition, the STR-9C has a reversible magazine release, a feature that makes it lefty-friendly and is typically only seen in higher-priced handgun models from other brands. For even more added value, it has an integrated accessory rail that accepts a wide variety of flashlights and laser attachments. This is, again, another feature usually only seen in higher-priced handgun models.
With a weight of 24 ounces, an overall length of six and nine-tenths of an inch, and a magazine capacity of 13 rounds plus one in the chamber, the STR-9 makes for a really potent option for concealed carry self-defense that is also wallet-friendly with an MSRP of $330 and street prices of $300 thereabouts.
Since the turn of the millennium, SCCY has been making some really good handguns in America for the budget segment. Their CPX-1 hammer-fired sub-compact chambered for the 9mm is relatively lightweight, easy to carry concealed, and has developed a following. Like any modern firearm, with the right ammo, it just goes bang every time you pull the trigger.
Its big claim to fame was its price. The SCCY CPX-1 could originally be purchased for $200 brand new, sometimes even lower, if you knew where to look. But what made that price even more appealing is the handgun’s accuracy, which is an inherent part of its barrel locking design, the Roebuck Quad Lock.
The CPX-1 is capable of 5-inch groups from distances of up to 25 yards. While it may not be a tack driver by any stretch, none of its competitors in the budget segment come close as far as accuracy. It only has one major drawback, something every single SCCY CPX-1 owner has been complaining about for years: the long and heavy double-action-only trigger pull.
But it all changes with the new DVG-1, the company’s first-ever striker-fired handgun that is also chambered for the 9mm. Apparently, the owner of SCCY had been listening to customer feedback from all those years ago and in an effort to build an even better budget handgun, came up with one that has a lighter and shorter double-action-only trigger.
With an advertised trigger pull weight of 5.5 lbs., the DVG-1’s flat-faced aluminum trigger was designed to have a straight profile to give its operator added leverage, providing a lighter and smoother feel while also allowing for a shorter and more positive reset.
Overall, this new handgun’s trigger is a huge improvement compared to the older CPX-1’s, enabling its operator to shoot faster and more accurately. But the improvements don’t just stop with the trigger. The DVG-1’s accuracy is further improved by its new 3.1-inch stainless steel barrel with a 1:16″ right-hand rifling twist.
Resting on top of the familiar-looking sub-compact polymer frame, the DVG-1’s slide is also made out of stainless steel, giving it good balance. Its enhanced slip-free grip texture along with the extended magazine baseplates that come out of the box allows for a tight purchase on the grip. The gun just points naturally with its very manageable weight of only 15.5 oz.
If you’re in the market for a budget sub-compact CCW in 9mm that is accurate, has a good double-action-only trigger, and is about as reliable as you would expect any striker-fired polymer handgun to be, the SCCY DVG-1’s MSRP of $330 may not sound appealing, but street prices for new-in-box models can go as low as $240 on Bud’s Gun Shop with free shipping.
Announced by Ruger over two decades ago, the original LCP chambered in .380 ACP was the company’s first entry in the ultra-light handguns market. Rugged and dependable, the Ruger LCP was targeted toward civilians looking for a reliable piece that won’t break the bank. Weighing only 9.4 oz or 266.5 grams, the LCP was made to be ultra lightweight, making it easy to conceal even in light clothing.
Not too long after, two new improved versions of the original LCP were released, one was the second generation LCP in 2013 which featured more prominent sights and a slightly shorter trigger pull, and the other was the LCP Custom in 2015 which sported a red hard-anodized aluminum trigger with a shorter pull length.
Then in 2016, Ruger announced the LCP II, a bigger cousin of the first LCP but still a micro handgun. As a direct response to feedback from potential customers, that is, people who were going to buy the original LCP but were being held back by some of its features, Ruger made several improvements to the original design.
The new LCP II is now slightly wider and its grip is now slightly thicker around the palm area, allowing for the operator to have a tighter purchase on the handgun’s grip. The slide is a little bigger now to give room for front serrations and taller sights. The trigger now features a blade trigger safety similar to Glock’s and most other striker-fired polymer handguns of today. In addition, the slide now locks back when empty.
Speaking of the trigger, what is arguably the biggest improvement when comparing the original LCP and the LCP II is the new trigger which Ruger changed from the heavy, panic-proof double-action-only trigger of the original to a single-action trigger that allows for a bit of slack. The new trigger now breaks cleanly at around 5 pounds 11 ounces and is followed by an actual reset that doesn’t require the operator to extend the trigger all the way out.
As for pricing, when the original LCP came out in 2013, it had an MSRP of $539.00. In comparison, the LCP II only retails on Ruger’s website for $419.00, which is still a little too high but as of this topic release, some are selling on Bud’s Gun Shop for $312 brand new.
It was around a decade ago when Smith & Wesson introduced the first of their M&P Shield line of polymer-framed handguns and when they did, it took the handgun enthusiasts community by storm.
Their M&P Shield line of pistols would earn the reputation of being one of the best bang-for-buck polymer-framed handguns on the market in the succeeding years, and Smith & Wesson would end up producing these pistols by the millions.
While the first generation of M&P Shield pistols weren’t nearly as reliable as Glocks, they offered steel sights which many people like better than the plastic sights on Glocks. They also featured slightly better ergonomics and a loaded chamber indicator which some didn’t like but it was designed for newbies so it wasn’t so bad.
And similar to Glocks, S&W M&P pistols also have a low bore axis, which, as I previously mentioned when I talked about the Stoeger STR-9C, makes for faster target reacquisition and faster follow-up shots by reducing muzzle flip.
But what really elevated the M&P Shield to Glock’s levels of status and recognition was the price. Glocks are already competitively priced, but M&P Shield pistols were just a tad bit more affordable, which made them a great alternative for Glocks.
Like all other firearm though, the M&P Shield was not without issues, two of which were considered by many to be real deal breakers: one, the inclusion of a manual safety which made it so that, as small as these pistols are, they can’t be carried as a pocket gun; and two, the trigger reset was terribly long.
Thankfully, these issues were fixed in 2017 upon the release of the second generation M&P Shield which the company labelled as M2.0. With the major problems ironed out, it would be safe to assume that Smith & Wesson would charge a premium for such well-built polymer handguns and if you head on over to their website, you might wonder why these handguns made it to my list with their $505 MSRP.
Well, as of this writing, Bud’s Gunshop has these quality pistols in factory new condition up for grabs for $345.15 and they currently have 171 of them in stock. I imagine they won’t be selling all of those anytime soon.
The Beretta Pico claims the number one spot on my list for three reasons: one, it’s the most aesthetically pleasing handgun for the price, in my opinion at least; two, for a brand name handgun built by one of the most respected firearms manufacturing company in the world, it’s one of the most affordable on the market; and three, it’s rated for overpressure ammo, which practically makes it the most durable handgun on this list.
In fact, it’s one of the only two handguns in the world chambered for the .380 ACP with an included manual that says it’s totally safe to shoot +P 380 ACP rounds in it, the other being the Kahr CW380 which sadly didn’t make it to my list because it’s priced higher than $350.
Now I know some of you gun nerds out there might say there is no such thing as a .380 ACP +P because SAAMI currently only has standard pressure load data published for the .380 ACP and there’s no specification for overpressure loads as of yet.
That would be a valid argument, but it wouldn’t change the fact that there are at least two ammo companies that manufacture +P rounds for the .380 ACP — Buffalo Bore and Underwood. And they don’t recommend you try and shoot such rounds out of a handgun that is not rated for overpressure loads. Well, if you have a Beretta Pico, you can shoot those loads with no problems, just don’t overdo it.
So, just how affordable is the Beretta Pico? If you go to the manufacturer’s website, you’ll see that it has an MSRP of only $300. Granted, if you go to online gunstores, you’ll find that they don’t have any of them in stock, but with the low MSRP, you should be able to find one selling at your local gun store for a few bucks less. Heck, you could buy it for $350 and it would still be a pretty good deal, considering how durable these little handguns are.