Inspired by an article in Shooting Industry magazine, I started exploring all the lesser-known handguns, rifles, and shotguns that offer reliability, accuracy, and an excellent bang for your buck. A lot of great guns get overlooked. At CheaperThanDirt.com we know they are great because we own them and shoot them. Most people, even those who have never touched a gun in their lives, have heard of GLOCK. A lot of people have also heard of Colt, Smith and Wesson, and Springfield. We sell plenty of Ruger and Taurus, too. Brand recognition and price do go a long way, however, just because these are top sellers, doesn’t necessarily mean they are the gun for you. You would be surprised at what guns some of the other established and well-priced manufacturers have to offer. In my list, there may be some companies you’ve heard of before, and some many of you have never heard of before. My list of overlooked handguns, rifles, and shotguns proved to us to be high-quality, affordable, and reliable alternatives to some of the bigger name companies.
CZ has been making firearms since 1936 in the Czech Republic. The classic full-sized CZ 75 is used by militaries around the world. The CZ 75 is a much-overlooked gun these days. CTD Rob says, “Shoppers can keep overlooking them if they choose, but I like to take the time to admire that quality hunk of Czech steel.”
If you are looking for something a little easier to conceal, check out the CZ 83. Starting at just under $400, the .380 CZ 83 holds 12 rounds and you can carry it with the safety on and a round in the chamber. The CZ 83 is a bit heavier than some other .380s, but that’s a good thing. It means recoil is reduced and practice with the CZ 83 won’t be a beating.
Made in the United States, Kahr Arms takes pride in their craftsmanship and offers a wide variety of pocket pistols that come standard with upgraded internal parts that you won’t find on other value-priced handguns. Everyone I know who carries a Kahr is proud of it. Not only do they make a true pocket pistol that isn’t just a belly gun, the Kahr is pleasant to shoot. The CM9 is accurate and reliable, and is good with cheap target ammunition as well as high-end, self-defense ammo. It is 5.42-inches overall and has a slide width of 0.90 inches, making this six-round, 9mm pistol easy to conceal in any weather. At less than $400, it’s not only a steal, it’s awesome!
Since 1886, Walther has been innovative and inventive when it comes to semi-automatic handguns. I know plenty of people that when you have to pry their gun from their cold, dead hands, it is going to be a Walther. The Walther PPS and PPQ are overlooked when shopping for a self-defense handgun. Both the Walther PPQ and PPS retail for around $500, which is just a little less than the other bigger-named, polymer-framed pistols you may have heard of.
Walther makes sure their trigger pulls are shorter and smoother. The PPQ’s trigger, called “The Defense Trigger,” has a 0.4-inch trigger travel and a 5.5-pound pull—exactly the same as a Glock 17. The PPS’s trigger is slightly larger with a 6.1-pound pull, but is smooth with a short reset.
Neither the PPS or PPQ are pocket guns, but they aren’t designed to be. However, they carry comfortably.
CMMG makes AR-15 rifles in .223 and .300 Blackout in prices ranging from the cheapest at $745 to the most expensive at $1,318. Compare that to Bushmaster, a company once thought to be the definitive AR-15 maker, and CMMG quickly becomes attractive. CMMG is relatively new to the black rifle market. Based out of Missouri, the company started out in the back of a print shop in 1991 making AR-15 parts and accessories. Due to an increase in demand and the popularity of black rifles, CMMG decided to start building full rifles. The M4 LE is a 5.56x45mm NATO typical AR-15 with all the upgrades and accessories you want to start your build. It has a 16-inch WASP-treated 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel, M4 handguards, and an upgraded Magpul MBUS rear sight. For less than $800, it is hard to beat an AR-15 that comes ready with more than just the basics.
Tikka T3 bolt-action hunting rifles are produced by Finnish firearms company Sako, which has been making guns for over 80 years. In 2000, Sako and Tikka T3 became a part of the Beretta company. What is special about any Tikka T3 rifle is their cold, hammer-forged and free-floated precision barrels. Tikkas have a super light, adjustable trigger pull from two to four pounds. Though the Tikka has a two-piece bolt, when compared to its competitors, the Tikka’s bolt wins out in smoothness. Tikkas come in every popular hunting caliber with your choice of a classic walnut stock, or the Lite models with black synthetic stocks.
Created in January 2011, Ambush Firearms is the offshoot company of Daniel Defense. Daniel Defense, an AR-15 rifle company in Georgia, builds their rifles, including cold-hammer-forged barrels from the ground up. In fact, they make parts for H&K and Barrett. Ambush Firearms is the sister project that builds the same quality rifles, but for the hunting market. For the AR-15 rifle hunter, Ambush Firearms provide an AR-15 platform in the new and popular .300 Blackout and 6.8 SPC calibers. Not only does Ambush Firearms make an incredibly sharp-looking rifle, they also make sure their firearms go from the field to the range without compromising form and function. If you are interested in hog hunting and using a tactical AR-15 style rifle, Ambush Firearms eliminates the need to purchase more than one rifle. Included in their line up is not only the typical black finish, but they also offer Mossy Oak Break Up Infinity camo and even pink Mossy Oak Break Up camo.
When a friend needed a home defense shotgun and was looking at Mossberg, I suggested the lesser-priced Maverick. Maverick is a Mossberg brand and made with the same tough reliability. The Maverick HS-12 is a home defense over and under shotgun. With an 18.5-inch barrel and an overall length of 36.5 inches it is tiny as far as shotguns go. The HS-12 is a fun little gun to shoot and looks sort of like a Coach gun, but funnier. Throw a light or a red dot on its Picatinny rail and you have a reliable 12 gauge, 3three-inch chambered home defense shotgun that is also fun to shoot at the range.
For under $100, the Russian Baikal by USSG, (EAA) offers three models of break-action single-shot shotguns. Don’t let the price of a Baikal fool you; these powerhouses will work for years. One advantage to a single-shot shotgun is learning how to make that one shot count. They are easy to clean, maintain and operate. The Baikal MP18 is great for someone on a budget who needs a gun that will be durable and tough, that is not only good for target shooting and hunting, but also great for home defense.
For a semi-auto shotgun that holds more rounds, the Mossberg SA-20 is an affordable, no-frills basic semi-automatic shotgun that won’t let you down in the field. Both the Bantam and Field models are 20-gauge shotguns with three-inch chambers and hold five rounds. The Bantam model is perfect for younger and smaller-size shooters with a 24-inch barrel and a shorter length of pull. The Field model has a 26-inch barrel and 14-inch length of pull. Semi-automatic shotguns are good for the first time shotgun shooters as they tend to have less felt recoil than a pump-action shotgun.
What do you think is the most underrated gun? Tell me about it in the comment section.