The Three Guns I’m Saving For

S&W M&P15OR Optics Ready Rifle .223 Remington

We all have dream guns, ones we would buy if we happened to win the lottery, but what about guns that in the near future you could have the means to purchase? Here in the office, the boss man asked us what three guns, under $800, are we saving our pennies to buy. Here is my list:

Rock Island Nickel GI 1911
Rock Island Nickel GI 1911

Rock Island Compact 1911

Many different guys have told me they do not recommend a .45 ACP 1911 for a woman, but little do they know that when I learned to shoot pistols, I learned on a Kimber compact 1911 with wood grips. I shot that thing like a champ. It is no longer in my possession and the $1,000 plus price tag scares me off, but the Rock Island compact 1911 is close to $600 less! Rock Island is the biggest manufactures of 1911s. In fact, ARMSCOR, Rock Island’s parent company, makes 1911s for Auto-Ordnance, Iver Johnson, and Charles Daly.

Rock Island’s 1911 offers no frills, but that’s okay, their quality is outstanding. I would rather customize my grips and sights anyway. They beat any other price for such a highly reliable 1911. At just a tad over $400, this is one 1911 I can afford.

Though I like a full-sized handgun, the compact is easier to carry and store. The Rock Island 1911 has a 3.5-inch barrel, holds 7 rounds, and a parkerized finished alloy frame.

To read more about ARMSCOR, check out our blogs Armscor: 1911s, Ammo, and More! and Solid as a Rock and Bang for Your Buck in Rock Island Armory.

Specifications and Features

  • .45 ACP
  • 3.5″ barrel
  • 7 round magazine capacity
  • Sights: Fixed
  • Grips: Wood
  • Single Action
  • Size: Compact
  • Frame Material: Alloy
  • Frame Finish: Parkerized

Like it? Want it? Buy it!

Smith & Wesson M&P optics ready rifle

S&W M&P15OR Optics Ready Rifle .223 Remington
S&W M&P15OR Optics Ready Rifle .223 Remington

I’ve been saying for months now that my next gun purchase will be a .223 AR-15. I already own the S&W M&P 15-22 and I love it. I have picked the optics-ready model because it is one of S&W’s cheaper models of the .223 M&P. This particular model has no sights, but a gas block and rail so you may pick your own. It has a basic six-position collapsible stock, which I also want to customize with pink furniture, so I don’t need to pay extra for all the bells and whistles on some of the more expensive M&P rifles. It has a 16-inch chrome-lined steel barrel and a 30-round magazine. It is a gas-operated system, with top-notch reliability. Further, it only weighs 6.5 pounds without the magazine. Later on down the road, I can get my tax stamp to cut down the barrel.

Specifications and Features

  • .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO
  • 16″ 4140 steel M4 barrel
  • 1:9″ twist with 6 grooves & lands
  • Chrome-lined barrel bore, gas key, and bolt carrier
  • 30 round magazine
  • Gas operated, multi-lug rotary locking bolt
  • 7075 T6 aluminum upper and lower receivers
  • Hard coat black anodized receivers and barrel
  • A3 flat top upper receiver
  • Gas block with integral picatinny style rail on the same plane as receiver rail for mounting iron sights
  • Black M4 6-position buttstock
  • Accepts all AR-15 and M16 magazines
  • 32″ to 35″ overall length
  • 6.5 lbs unloaded

Like it? Want it? Buy it!

Beretta 84FS

Beretta Model 84FS Cheetah
Beretta Model 84FS Cheetah

The Beretta 84FS is my latest flame. I have never been interested in .380s before, let alone Berettas. My friend has a PX4 Storm, but the price has always made me weary. After shooting the Beretta 84FS, I knew that Beretta actually DID have something for me. Though the price does seem high for a .380, Beretta has a solid reputation. Their handguns are solidly built and reliable. The 84 FS Cheetah has a 3.8-inch barrel and holds 10 rounds. The open slide design means less jams and better reliability. It has a full-size grip, relative to my hand size and a combat-style trigger guard. The safety is easy to reach and ambidextrous to boot. To read more about my love affair with the Beretta 84, read my blog post, My New Love, The Beretta 84.

Specifications and Features

  • .380 ACP
  • 10 round capacity
  • 3.8″ nickel chromium-molybdenum steel barrel
  • Chromed bore
  • Double/single action
  • Ambidextrous safety
  • Double action trigger
  • Combat style trigger guard
  • Hammer de-cocking device
  • Reversible magazine release
  • Open slide design
  • Auto firing pin block
  • Alluminum alloy frame
  • Plastic grips
  • 3-dot sights
  • Staggered magazine
  • Matte black finish
  • Corrosion resistant
  • 6.8″ overall length
  • 1.4″ wide
  • 4.8″ tall
  • 4.9″ sight radius
  • 23.3 oz. empty

Like it? Want it? Buy it! What three are you saving for?

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (18)

  1. RRA 6.8 w/Burris E1 2X7 with SAA 110gr SP
    Sig compact 1911 .45 with Ranger 230gr HP
    Rohrbaugh R9 9mm with Gold Dot 147gr HP
    NAA Wasp 22mag Gold Dot SB 40gr HP

    Included the 4th as it’s ALWAYS with me.

  2. Three wishes?

    1. Replace the old Springfield 1911 with a Glock 21 .45 ACP. Twice the magazine capacity. A 230 grain Hornaday or Cor-bon JHP will provide years of confidence and posture. .45 ACP can hardly be argued to be an ineffective man stopper.

    2. A Beretta 92FS/M9. O.K., I saw “Lethal Weapon” when it opened and then the military switched to it. A 17 round capacity of +P ammo is another hard argument to argue against.

    3. For home defense, the S&W Governor which fires the .410, .45 LC, and .45 ACP. I choose a wheel gun for home defense because if it comes to that, I don’t want any concerns realized such as autos are famous for, as in jamming, etc… Definitely not the time for such. I want to pull the trigger and the thing goes bang. Period. Ammunition choices however are dictated by the environment. Hydra-shock by Federal may be a good choice. Anything that will not over-penetrate dry-wall must be a consideration. Can’t afford to hit any friendlies.

    I don’t believe that any caliber under 9mm is sufficient to render sufficient stopping power. Please note that I did not say killing power. a .22 LR has amazing killing power, but virtually no stopping power. And, I am not totally convinced about the 9mm. But, don’t care to get into that little argument.
    Good hunting.

  3. Suzanne, I like your first two choices but not really fond of the third. The .380 is a fine carry gun if that’s what you are intending it for, but for practical purposes you can’t beat the stopping power of the 1911. Additionally, trying to reload the small brass cartridges can be tedious, tiresome and downright irritating. Unless you are not planning to reload, in that case .308 ammo is cheap. In my opinion a nice .357 would work somewhat better. Grips are smaller (for smaller hands), and let’s face it if I can shoot 2 types of ammo out of the same gun, duh dual purpose!!!! The basic M&P15OR is an excellent choice. Last year I purchases a DPMS with carrying handle not thinking ahead. Now in order to add optics I have had to purchase a tactical rail adapter for the carrying handle. I have never had problems using iron sights out to about 500 meters, but let’s face it we all get old and sometimes have some good optics really makes the day. Besides that, I’ve had the opportunity and the M&P is really fun to shoot. As far as the 1911 is concerned, what can you say, it’s a 1911!!! The standard joke is why do you need a .45? Because they don’t make .46!!! And the Rock Island for around $400 right out of the box is more fun than an 8 year old getting an Xbox for Christmas!!! It’s well made, no frills and sticks with the traditional 1911 design. Send it of the Les Baer for and action and trigger job and add some nice grips and you’ve got a good quality home-defense, concealed carry or service duty weapon. Just my personal preferences.

  4. My three guns that I’m saving for, I like the simple Glock 19 for conceal carry because its reliable and easy to use. My home gun will be a 12 ga semi auto shotgun, i prefer the Remington versa max tactical because it fires any round without a hiccup. My third gun might surprise some of you, but it’s the right choice for me. I would love to have a Marlin 45/70 lever action rifle in stainless, short barrel set up with extended magazine tube, with fiber optic sites with a nice scope ! The Ruger American is a cheaper choice for my rifle in 30-06. The Gun I hear is very accurate and well made for the price. I watched a review of this gun on the gun nuts Television show!

  5. My favorites, under $800 are: For a battle rifle, the CETME, or Hk G-1 as built on civilian recievers. .308/7.62 W/20 rd. Mags
    For a combat/defense pistol: hands down the 1911 .45 ACP
    and third would have to be the Remington 870 12 Ga. If I got to add my 4th and 5th choices, I’d add a Ruger 10/22, and a Ruger single six in 22/22mag.

  6. A really good semi-auto shotgun is the next one for me. The Remington Model 1100 Tac 2 Semi Auto Shotgun with an 18″ Barrel is next to be purchased. Why? Because inside of 75 yards I do not want another firearm regardless of what I am doing. It is something I have been looking at for about 3 years and have seen several used that I am kicking myself for not buying. But there is always a reason and now I know… Cheaper than Dirt is selling the shotgun I wanted brand new, for a price that can’t be beat. Thank you CTD!!!!

  7. From what I have read this is very controllable, since it is heavy (i.e. solid), gun and hence very accurate. I have a Tomcat (stainless) and a Bobcat and they are very good, accurate guns.

  8. if I had to choose three out of the several guns I own to match what you’ve listed it would be my Bersa Thunder .380 Plus, either my full size M&P .40 or my compact one (leaning towards full size for this tho) and my Remington 7615 Police Tactical .223 pump with 3x9x40 mil-dot scope on it

  9. The $800 limit puts several of my choices out but here’s what I would choose:

    Ruger Redhawk 44mag

    Ruger Gunsite Rifle

    S&W M&P 40

    Why? Because I already have an STI Elektra 45acp in pink (I LOVE this gun), a Ruger GP100 357 mag, a Beretta 92FSA1, Ruger Vaquero Bisley 45LC, AR’s from 22LR to 50 Beowulf, Winchester 94, 1873 Springfield Trapdoor….I need a 44 mag revolver, 40 Cal semi-auto and a good multipurpose bolt action rifle. Under $800 fits those choices well I think.

    Suzanne, glad to hear you love those small 45acp 1911’s, I love mine. I just couldn’t choose a 380 for me but I love the Beretta guns. My 92FSA1 shoots like a dream, yes they are big but I put a pink Hogue grip on mine and it made it much easier to hold and shoot well . I’ve shot the S&W M&PT and loved it, they are top notch AR’s. Thanks for the article.

  10. My next 3 under 800
    -Glock 19
    -Browning Buckmark
    -Springfield XDS (although I plan to wait and see If an “M” comes out.

    You should also consider a carbine with a mid-length gas system and either a light or pencil barrel.

    You might also consider buying a dedicated SBR upper rather than modifying an existing one. I imagine the costs would be similar.

  11. The Beretta 84F has no place in my self defense plan.

    I still want one just because of looks. It has great lines, beautifully fitted and finished. It just has the right curves.

    My 3 guns that are under $800:
    Remington 870- Everyone should own one, and I don’t.
    M&P 22- Perfect training handgun, cheap to shoot, and suppressor ready.
    and the Beretta 84F.

  12. I can understand picking the Beretta over the Glock. I’ve tried several models of Glock. They all feel like crap in my hand and I can’t stand to shoot them. On the other hand, I have no problem running several hundred rounds through my 92FS in a single range visit and if it was a little smaller would carry it in a heart-beat. It doesn’t matter how great anyone thinks a particular gun is, if it doesn’t feel right in YOUR hand, leave it alone and try something that does. Notice, I didn’t say there is anything WRONG with Glocks, only that I don’t like the way they feel in MY hands. I would never recommend AGAINST someone else buying a Glock or almost any other gun, or ridicule their choice, just because I don’t like the gun myself. Whether it is guns, motorcycles or whatever, brand-snobbery is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    Back on topic, I’m looking out for the right [as yet undetermined] 12ga coach gun and 7.62x54r semi-auto rifle and a plain-jane SAIGA 12ga.

  13. I really don’t understand where the Beretta fits in. There are so many guns that are superior in caliber, weight, and dimensions. I can understand if you just really like the gun, but a there are so many others that are cheaper and better suited for concealed carry. Look into the S&W M&P Shield, the Glock 26, the Glock 19, and the Glock 26. All are smaller, lighter, and cheaper…

  14. Suzanne,

    Thanks for this article. I don’t have a big budget to spend on firearms and getting info like this really helps.

  15. Suzanne,
    Great list of guns! Out of curiosity how is the grip size of the 84fs? Lots of folks complain about the 92fs (9mm) always being rather large and I’m curious if the grip sizes are about the same or not. I’ll probably be renting this one to help ease the transition to 9mm for my 13 year old who loves to shoot with her dad.

  16. AJTexas,
    Thank you for your comment. You asked a very good question. I think I would probably carry the Beretta more than the 1911. I love the 1911 for a target gun. I do not think .380 ACP is a bad defense round. In addition, I like a variety of calibers and types of guns. Though going with one caliber is economical, it’s not half as much fun!

  17. Suzanne, Just out of curiosity what will the use be for the Beretta, BUG? If so, why a .380 instead of a second .45 ACP? Please don’t get me wrong. I am not nit picking. I really want to know. My primary is an XD .40 S&W or XD .45 ACP, depending on my mood and I just obtained an SOB for my Bersa .380 as my BUG. However, once I get my Springfield Champion with ambidextrous safety I will swap both our in favor of an all 1911 array.

    Which brings up another point; if CTD has any recommendations for a compact 1911 costing equal to or lesser than the Springfield Champion ($860.00) I would be interested. However, it MUST have an ambidextrous safety as I will be carrying it at 8:00, secondary side.

    Thanks for your time.

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