I Love Cheap Guns…And I am not Afraid to Admit It!

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms

I suppose it is time for a confession. I have a long documented problem. In truth, it is not so much a problem as it is an addiction. Perhaps problem and addiction are really one in the same, but I digress and do not find value in arguing the semantics at any rate. My addiction is not so open that my family has ever seen fit to hold an intervention although it would have the makings of a titillating reality show.

Raven Arms .25 Semi-automatic pistol

Terrible safety, wimpy caliber and fake pearl grips fit for pimp…maybe. Although it was one of the original Saturday night Specials, it has utility—especially with a price tag of about $125!

Surprisingly, my wife—who normally seems to plot ways to vex my safe-stuffing, gun-hoarding efforts at every turn—supports my addiction, not openly mind you, but she encourages it passively (more the carrot than stick I normally receive when she discovers I have yet again succumbed to my passion). I have spent countless hours scouring the web, lurking on discussion boards and hinting to friends within my inner circle, but there simply does not seem to be a self-help group for my particular affliction. Am I alone? Or do others suffer silently as I do?

You see, as embarrassing as this is to admit publicly, I like cheap guns. I am drawn to the fiscally responsible firearm. I seek out the deals others scoff at or plug their collective noses as they pass. Like my wife after an excursion to the shoe or jewelry store, when confronted with the evidence I simply claim, “It just followed me home. I didn’t encourage or feed it or anything. I told it ‘no’ but it wouldn’t listen. I ran all the way home and made several turns in an attempt to evade, but somehow it still followed me.” I really do not see how I am to blame given all of my efforts.

Hi Point .40 caliber pistol

HI Points do not carry the highest of recommendations, but a large caliber for about $150 that also serves as a club when you run out of ammo and the author could not resist. Run ball ammo and the Hi Point shoots great.

Just to be clear, yes I own, carry and regularly shoot custom GLOCKs. I have a sufficient number of SIG Sauers to adequately arm a platoon. A custom rifle (or two) may, possibly, perhaps, be tucked in the hard to reach—and harder to see corners of the gun safes—that is the nether regions where the wife is reluctant to check… I have been known to order multiples of the same model shotgun or AR. After all, it is all about the furniture—as much as the platform—that makes the build fun. Right?

Still, while my collection is filled with fine shooting firearms, I am drawn to cheap guns. I am into anything scoffed at by the masses and often slandered by the moniker Saturday Night Special. Without going into too much detail, examples include offerings such as the .25 Raven, Phoenix Arms .25, .380 Cobra, Mosin Nagant and of course the crown jewel of low-dollar firearms Hi-Point. My addiction started at a young age—mostly out of need. I was a college student, loved to shoot and kept a case of ramen noodles figuring it could get me through for at least a couple of weeks in a pinch, but the tradeoff was worth a new pistol here and there.

Sig Sauer P250 sub compact

Cheap does not have to mean rock bottom. SIG Sauers are not normally associated with “cheap.” However, by comparison, the SIG P250 is significantly cheaper than previous models and still feature SIG’s “To Hell and Back” reliability.

When the budget was beyond strained, I needed to count pennies. Checking under the couch cushions was a wasted effort and given the budget, I had no doubt about which side of tracks I resided. This made security a high priority, and second only to a biscuit or two to stretch the wrinkles in my tummy.

Times change and hard work was eventually rewarded with a few amenities, but fond memories of cheap guns still remain. It is an addiction I am happy to let live; one that I still feel comfortable giving a home. I’ll admit it, friends discover my cache of budget arms and shoot me a look like I had an untreated tick on my forehead. However, to me, it is a tick with a name, sorta like a stray that just followed me home. Who could blame me for being a softie?

Do you have a particular addiction to firearms? Perhaps a gun you tend to hide from a spouse or friends? It’s time to come out of the gun closet and share it with us in the comment section.


Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

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Comments (70)

  • Jesse


    I must admit I am also a lover of low budget fire arms, don’t get me wrong I am not saying “Cheap and Dangerous ” I am saying no big pile of $$$$$ to own something that shoots.

    Yes I’ve done the Mosin route, the Kimber route, the Savage Stevens route but I also own more high end weapons but there is just something about finding that quirky deal now and then, like a 7.62X54r caliber rifle for under $100.00, that’s just unheard of but they are out there.

    I enjoy picking up a low cost 12 gage and spending a couple bills to see what I can build it into, ie: cheap field shot gun into a Home defense tactical 12 gage, I think of them as model kits for grown boys.

    I think there are many Low budget Collectors like myself out there, nothing wrong with it, I am also a fan of 22Lr versions of AK’s AR’s Uzi and so on, I don’t own any of the 22Lr versions I just mentioned but I like the idea that they are made and available to the public.

    I have some lines with cheap collecting that even I don’t cross, 1) I do not spend money on no-firing weapons, 2) No air soft, 3) No paint Ball, 4) No reproductions, 5) No concept models.

    The weapon must be classified as a real fire arm, they are usually discontinued models, caliber reduced models, close outs, over stocks and always under priced.

    I always keep an eye out for just some fun guns like the M9130 Mosin Nagant that can be built in many different ways with after market components today, a “Transformer” for big boys !!!


  • Jason


    It’s really unfortunate that highpoint still doesn’t get recommended. They don’t have many features. They are ugly, heavy, and near impossible to conceal, but they are very reliable and have the best factory customer service I have ever seen. If something doesn’t work right, they fix it free of charge and usually throw in some freebies for your troubles. And they don’t care if you are the first owner or the 10th, or if the gun is 15 years old. I guess trashing a bargain makes gun snobs feel better about spending $800 to do the same thing you can do for $150.


  • Carl


    This is a little off subject but wanted to share. My Dad handed me a box the other day. Said if was time that I should have it. He turned 89 not to long ago and was a Sherman tank commander that survived the landings on Omaha Beach so long ago. In the box was his service Colt .45ACP and shoulder holster. Serial # 422981. Produced at the Hartford CT. Factory in 1918 some time between April and October as best as I can tell. He told me that when he was issued it that it was still in the original packaging, wax paper and cosmolien. It had waited in storage for him for 23 years. He first carried it in the ’42 landing in North Africa then later on in D-Day and thru the remainder of the war. I just wanted to share, its just an old goverment 1911 that will be turning 100 years old in for years, its a treasure beyond value to me.


    • larry


      Your Father is a “Honorable” man. Thank him from everyone in this forum for his service to protect and preserve the freedom and liberty we enjoy today.
      Honor your Father and all those that fought and all those that made the ultimate sacrifice for you, me and every other American by using that “Treasure” at every opportunity at the range, in competition and in self defense.
      Semper Fidelis.


  • steve


    My first handgun was a RG .22 – I still have it and occasionally shoot it – can’t hit squat and it spits lead out the cylinder like a truck driver, but it’s here to stay.

    As a Sheriff’s Deputy I carried a Davis .380 as my backup duty piece, qualified with it and I’m sorry I let it go. Once I learned it shot low left I compensated and made marksman with it, only one stovepipe in every 50 or so rounds.


  • Bob


    For me its ugly Tokarevs TT33,s and Cz52’s They are not pretty but they are loud , powerful and built like tanks.


    • Don


      What’s wrong with the way a tt33 looks :)


    • Phillip


      The Romanian Cugirs win the Tokarev beauty contest, as the word “beauty” is relative! Beauty is in the reliability and performance, oh, and cheapness, there are no UGLY Tokarevs. TTC, the beauty queen of cheap guns!


  • cody


    I agree. I started collecting with a 91/30, I love the authentic look of that Era military rifle, along with the cheap ammo and fun shooting. Moved onto a type 53 and sks, ak, and today I bought a p38 USA built .22 for $130, hit soda cans at 50 yards, very impressive for slightly short barrel. I have a built R700SPS in 223 that I can hit a tack at 200 yards, and a browning A-bolt .308, the Mosin is my favorite deer rifle. After years of taking eyes out of deer at 400 yards with the r700, it was no longer a challenge. This year I harvested an 8 point at 200 yards with the mosin, and it was thrilling. Using surplus ammo, (on purpose) there’s some guess work with each shot as the barrel warms. Pulling the sights up on a mosin on an 8 point and saying a little prayer while you squeeze hoping to land the perfect shot is much more of a challenge and more fun to me. And with the power of those rifles the occasional brush pile isn’t a matter. I in fact converted my high end 308 to shoot 7.62×39 with a chamber adapter because it’s more fun and cheaper. Always a believer in those deals, and turns heads on friends when you pull out a ww2 rifle. Picking up a mosin for $120 is always a great choice in my eyes.


  • George


    I have a .45 Hi-Point. standard front sight …. ghost ring rear sight. shoots great for me and I love to shoot it even tho’ it IS a bit on the heavy side. the weight helps to tame any recoil. bad part is …. the range master at the local range where I qual’d for my CCW won’t let me shoot it at “his” range. had to use a 9mm Makarov to shoot the course.


  • Gary


    I have one of the 1960’s Rohm .22 shorts (sold for $12 new back in the early ’60’s) that I got from my dad. I shot it the only 6 times it has been shot….and I still have all my fingers. A gun dealer said every punk had one pre-Oswald. It’s not as good as the “expensive Hi Points”


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