Cheap Guns.  While working as a defensive shooting instructor I saw a variety of handguns.  Now as a writer I’ve seen even more.  From under $200 to over $2,000.  Is there really a ten-fold difference?  Bookmark this page because we’ve got more the answer to more than 100 guns.

The answer is yes and no.  There are certainly values to be had, and the expensive stuff is sometimes just because of branding.  I’ve been burned by the cheap (Taurus) and pleased by the expensive (SPS), but that isn’t always the rule.  Although I’d love to just give you a list of cheapies to avoid and go after it’s not always that simple.  For example, I’ve had a terrible experience with Taurus, but that doesn’t mean that every gun they make it bad.  In fact, this brings up a solid point about gun reviews: They are a sample size of one.

Please keep this in mind when researching a purchase.  Any review you see out there may be sponsored, or have a bias, and even when it doesn’t the review is typically coverage by one person of one firearm.  The only person who can really tell you if a gun is any good is you.  You can narrow the field by finding what interests you, but it’s best to read multiple reviews before considering.  If looking for high-value I suggest being brand-blind.  Some of the lesser-known companies try the hardest to earn your business by providing excellent options at a lower price.  The risk with these brands comes to wondering if they will be around in five years, but does it matter?

The Zenith handguns are a great example of this.  Over the last couple of years they offered some incredible handguns at relatively low prices.  They’ve recently dropped their handgun line which means parts might be an issue, but not if you bought one of their 1911s.  Those guns readily accept most aftermarket 1911 parts.  Two other importers bringing in great value guns that accept readily-available parts are T R Imports and Tristar Arms.

Don’t forget that not everyone needs their gun to survive a 5,000 round range day.  In fact for most gun owners the magazine spring may be the weak point in their gun, but we never hear about that in reviews.  We have an answer for that too, make sure it’s a reputable manufacturer such as Mec Gar.  Even if you current magazines are fine it doesn’t hurt to invest in some good ones for the long haul.

If you’re looking for value I’ve created a playlist of high-value and affordable firearms.  Grab some popcorn and take a look.

If you’re ready to drop some bigger coin, or wondering if the more expensive stuff is really worth it there’s a playlist for that too.  The playlist below consists of the more expensive firearms we’ve tried.  Most of these guns were provided on loan from their respective manufacturers or importers.  Would I buy every one of them?  No, but there are certainly some worth admiring.

In the end I can’t say that there is a threshold of when a gun is great for the money or too much money.  It does seem that handguns around the $400 mark, and rifles around the $1,000 mark are going to be good buys, but that is far from a rule.  Help others considering their buys by commenting below with what your best and worst purchase has ever been.  My worst was the Taurus PT111 G2, and best the Zenith Z5-RS

Photos by author.