Firearms

Best Handguns Under $500

Kahr ST9 pistol left profile

One evening, Grayson H. and five of his friends decided they wanted to go catch a 7 p.m. movie at the Central Mall in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The mall was overly crowded, so they parked about 100 yards from the door and walked to the ticket counter.

Before the movie started, the group decided to go back to their vehicles, since they had a little time to waste before the movie began.

Mike Seekander teaches a student the right way to improve shooting skills.
Mike Seeklander is owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, a full-service training company, and the co-host of “The Best Defense,” the Outdoor Channel’s leading self-defense and firearms instruction show.

One of the friends in the group, Tabitha, was going through a difficult divorce and the group of friends was looking forward to a fun evening to cheer her up. However, while the group was standing in the parking lot waiting for the movie to start, Grayson noticed that Tabitha’s ex-husband was driving around.

Before Grayson knew it, Tabitha’s ex had jumped out of his vehicle and was walking toward the group. The ex, identified as 34-year-old Fadi Qandil pulled a gun from his waistband and fired multiple shots at Tabitha missing her.

Grayson saved Tabitha by pushing her out of the way, but he was hit by the gunfire and fell to the ground. Immediately, Grayson pulled out his own gun, a Smith & Wesson, and returned fire striking and killing Qandil. Grayson made a full recovery from his wounds.

Obviously, Grayson saved lives that day and while he carried a Smith & Wesson, which is a great gun, it’s definitely not the most expensive gun on the market.

I hear from a few folks that think guns are too expensive these days, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality gun.

Here are some solid handguns on the market that are under $500.

SIG Sauer P250

Believe it or not, SIG Sauer manufactures a handgun for less than $500, which is an incredible value for a high-quality gun and one of my personal favorite guns to carry.

The P250 is a double-action-only pistol with a modular system that gives the shooter the option to change to different calibers, barrel lengths, and grip sizes.

The P250 can be purchased in 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .380 ACP.

The price will depend on the specific options you choose but this is a great value for a gun under $500.

Walther Creed

This is a relatively new pistol from Walther, designed to meet the demands of folks wanting a decent entry-level gun without breaking the bank.

The Creed was designed with comfortable ergonomics and a high-quality trigger that is typically featured on much more expensive guns.

In addition, in the 9mm you get 16+1 rounds, which is a great number for a compact 9mm.

The Creed starts around $300, and I love to carry this gun.

Smith & Wesson SD9VE

Smith & Wesson is known for its long tradition of making quality firearms including both revolvers and semi-automatics.

The SD9VE is a polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm pistol with a magazine capacity of 16 rounds.

The thing is, this firearm has been around since the 1990s and legend has it that the company spent millions of dollars researching the shape of the human hand to create the best grip and shape of the pistol.

The upshot? For around $350 you get a solid handgun.

Canik TP9

Canik is a Turkish company that broke into the U.S. market with its poly-frame striker that is extremely accurate and reliable.

One of the biggest advantages to this firearm is that you can easily purchase aftermarket accessories to upgrade or replace any parts.

Plus, with Canik’s TP9, you get a 9mm with an 18+1 capacity for around $350. I own this gun and it’s never given me any issues.

Kahr ST9

The Kahr Arms ST9 is an ideal choice for concealed carry and those looking for maximum stopping power and ultra concealment with all the features of a tactical pistol. The Kahr Arms ST9 offers enhanced grip texturing, with an integral accessory rail and an enhanced magwell for speed and efficiency. Like all Kahr handguns, it’s an excellent American-made pistol that is reliable, durable, and accurate. This version has a stainless steel slide with front and rear serration for ease of operation and 3-dot combat sights to get you on target quickly. If you are looking for the ultimate in concealed carry, the Kahr Arms ST9 may be the EDC pistol you have been searching for. The Kahr CT9 is an updated version that has many of the same features as the ST9, just without the accessory rail for around $350.

The sleek-looking, two-tone, ST9 carries an MSRP of $456.

Do you have a favorite handgun for under $500 that should have made this list? Make your best case in the comment section.


Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit www.SpyEscape.com.

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 (49)

  1. The Bersa Thunder 380 is a PPK clone (improved) well made, alloy frame. With modern ammo such as Hornady Critical Defense, it has all the stopping power you need.

  2. purchased a canik tp9sfx would not cycle with a vortex red dot slight side pressure on trigger would lock up trigger. junk traded for vortex scope. cz p09 is a much better pistol only slightly over 500$

  3. I recently bought a S&W SD9. I read a lot about a crappy trigger on this weapon, and that if you wanted a pull less than 9# you should buy a new trigger. I however came from carrying a CZ 82 so the trigger was not an issue for me. Being able to walk into a store and buy accessories was nice, including a made to fit holster, sites, and yes if I wanted to spend 20 bucks for the new trigger it was available. This weapon shoots nice, it fits my hand, and haven’t had a failure after 500 rounds.

  4. I have several pistols I carry, all of them meet the under 500 dollar mark.
    My long time favorite is the Kahr CW 45 , it is compact and easy to handle and has never failed to work properly. My most recent addition is a Ruger EC9S . This is a great small gun for almost any size hand it is very nice to shoot , all for just over300 dollars. I also enjoy pocket size revolvers ,I carry both a charter arms 38 special and myTaurus 357 both of which are almost foolproof point and shoot weapons: these are all affordable efficient and dependable choices for personal protection:

    1. hey greg, agree with all the guns you mentioned- i also edc a pm9 and i also love my cw45. i picked up an lcr in 327 mag which holds 6 rounds and has ballistics approaching a 357 sig! also own a walther pps m2. theyre like your kids- i love em all for slightly different reasons!

  5. I owned a Creed ran two mag through it. Sold it after that . Not impressed with it . Bought a Sig 2022 in its place much better .

    1. Walther discontinued the Creed last year…. better options are the Walther CCP ( great concealed carry gun) or the PPS-M2.

  6. HK VP9/VP9SK can regularly be found below $500 regularly. So can Steyr M/C/S handguns. Both are arguably the best in the polymer market out of the box

    They have better triggers, ergos for most, sights, than most/all of those guns. Can’t say I’ve shot the S&W or the creed.

  7. I use my two IWI (Jericho) Baby Eagle Compacts in 9mm exclusively. One carried and the other stationed situationally. I own striker fired guns and prefer hammer and decocker of this firearm. The little beast is just enough nose heavy to make following shots easy. This is true for +P Ammo in self defense carry.

  8. Within the last 2 years I have purchased two new, EXCELLENT firearms for less than $500: FN FNS40 ($351.99) and the FNS9 with night sights ($436.99) – both through prices shown include shipping and FFL fee. You can’t be the price or the quality of the firearms.

  9. I see no Hi-Power clones! Seriously?!?
    There are a plethora of sub $500 HP clones out there! Most are VERY good pistols. My favorite are those from Tanfoglio. I carry a Witness and would not carry anything else!

    1. I had never heard of Tanfoglio until I saw a pretty little 9mm on my local range’s website that I HAD to have, Tanfoglio witness compact. Bought it without holding it and was a nervous wreck until it came in. First 4 shots were all in the center 3 circles…the fifth one was outside after I paused because I couldn’t believe placement on the first four. By far, my favorite handgun. Feels like it was made for me. First semiauto that I was not nervous releasing the slide because of the size of the beavertail.

  10. I have carried a Ruger SR9C for several years and it’s a great gun. I don’t remember the exact price but it was in the low $400 range. Comes with a 10 rnd and a 17 rnd magazine, great trigger, dependable, easy to conceal and best of all, made in the USA.

  11. I carry a Glock 43 with a couple of extra mags with extensions in a strong side OWB. I have plenty of fire power with stock parts and the 43 is so light you forget you have it on. Deadly accurate out to 25 yards or “run away” distances, a bit snappy but nothing that will keep you from range time. And yes to many people it is ugly but it goes bang EVERY time. With pistol mag extensions this is the ideal pistol for under $500.

  12. I have Ruger P-89, P-95’s, and most recent purchase a Ruger .380 LCP that makes the perfect conceal carry device with an added laser for target acquisition. Recently purchased a Springfield XD-S 9mm with a Viridian Laser snd 3 magazines as part of a Black Friday promotion.The 3.3mm barrel also makes a great conceal carry option with the added firepower of a 9mm Hornady Personal Protection ammunition. All this for $400.00! Best buy I’ve made in quite awhile.

  13. I have a Sig SP2022 I paid a little over $400 for, chambered in .40 Smith and Wesson. It’s a phenomenal pistol that included a holster and 2 mags, and has adjustable grips. Overall it’s one of my favorite Pistols even though it’s the cheapest

    1. I’m in the market for a 9mm full size pistol for a new shooter to use. So I don’t want to break the bank but don’t want junk either. I also am not a fan of DAO striker fired pistols which is a big hurdle to find low price. Anyway, I have been researching and found the SP2022 which I had never heard of previously. I can’t understand why it seems to be such an overlooked pistol. When I clicked on this article I expected to see it included in the list. They probably should have put it in since it would be the only DA/SA option in the article. And I have found nothing but praise for this pistol online. Strange.

    2. I agree. I have a Sig Sp2022 in .40S&W and it a great gun and it’s under $500. I installed the Hannibal trigger and stainless guide rod.

  14. After I read about the CZ-75 I wanted one. But the price at the time was a bit more than I cared to invest. A short time later, I saw a review on YouTube for the Tanfoglio Witness, and I grabbed one up. Out of all of my handgun, and that’s a lot, this has become my favorite!
    Everything about it seems like it was custom made for me. The trigger is amazing to say the least. It’s magazine hold 16 or 17 rounds, yet it’s not bulky in the grips. It’s become my every day carry in a pancake holster tucked in the small of my back. When I’m not wareing a cover garment, I mostly carry a Makarov high capacity, (rather hard to find) but I got lucky, plus, I find it to be incredibly accurate.

  15. I carry the S&W SD 9VE with shaped Hogue grips. I had read an article about it. The tester fired every kind of ammo in it and he couldn’t make it jam. That’s what I wanted. It has never misfired, and by the time I traded a used 380 for it, I ended up getting it for 50.00. It came with two spare mags, which made up for the 50.00. Basically, I got it for nothing. For the price, this is a great weapon. I think at any price it’s a great weapon.

  16. CZ-USA 01190 CZ 75 Compact 10+1 9mm 3.8″
    $518.00 / At 5″ tall with a barrel length of just under 4″, the Compact model shaves a little more than 3/4″ off the length and about 1/2″ off the height of the full-size CZ 75. Its reduced size allows it to readily disappear under regular clothing. The CZ 75 DA/SA action with a manual safety lever provides the user with two options for carry: hammer-back with the safety on for single action operation or manually decocked for a double action first shot with no need to remember to take off the safety before firing. Because the 75 Compact retains the steel frame of the original 75, only 2.4 oz of weight is lost, making it the softest-shooting compact in the CZ 75 line.

  17. Not a lot of glowing testimonials on the Sig P250 here, and my experience is no different. Worst shooting handgun I have ever owned, as in past tense. Mushy DA trigger, about 8-1/2 lbs. according to my gauge. Hard to shoot accurately either tactically or slow fire. Hey, it felt good in my hand at the gun store, and reviews were great. Maybe I just got a lemon. Nothing against Sig either as my EDC is a Sig P938.

  18. I too really like the PT111 from Taurus. Own two and they both run flawlessly. For around $200 you can get both and some Sig p226 mags for extra capacity and still be under $500. ( Sig mags are perfect fit and have only had one malfunction in that the 18 round I have failed to lock open slide on empty once. +1000 rounds through mine.

    1. I had a PT 111 for years and wore it out. Never a misfire or a jam, which is amazing to me. Great little weapon.

  19. Just bought the new Taurus G2C, like it more than the small Glocks, because it has a frame mounted safety & is just as small for concealed carry. Taurus has a winner on its hands with little gem in the $200 price range. I may buy the other model also with the s/s slide.

  20. I have a Ruger P89 that I wouldn’t trade for any of the firearms mentioned here. Yes it’s a tank. It’s also gone bang every time it’s been used . That’s near 30 years now. Yes I do use it for CC. Mostly in the colder months, The newest and latest/greatest isn’t always the best but to each their own.

    1. Springfield XDS .45 pistols in both 4.0 and 3.3 configurations, have served me WELL. I wouldn’t have any other brand for the money. Gear-Up promotions at the time of purchase in 2017 did persuade my decision,
      but unbeatable for the price.

    2. These glowing reviews of the P89, I don’t get it? Must’ve bought a lemon, mine had fte/ftf failures at least once every mag! I tried several different ammo types, same results. (…bought new in ’98)

  21. The review seems to focus on full size, so Glock has models likely @ $500 for the holidays, and the Sig P320 prices there along with Beretfa 92 DAO. As with a previous comment, for economic and compact concealed, there are a bunch. I like Taurus PT111 G2 9mm @ ~ $200 + add night sights & Sig 15 rnd mags and for a .9″ thick single stack, the Ruger LC9P @ ~$260 + add night sights and 10 rnd mags. Both are reliable, accurate, and handle +P, though I can’t work them well past about 40′. The Ruger has a nice trigger out of box, The Taurus trigger shapes up well with some polishing.

    1. I carry a Sig SP2022 in .40 S&W.
      It is also a full size pistol.

      For easier concealment in warmer weather without much cover garment I carry a Bersa Pro Thunder also in .40 S&W.

      Both are single/double action with a decocker.

    2. The sig p2022 is actually considered a compact. I used to own one of it’s predecessors, the p2340. An awesome gun. Sorry

    3. I too carry the PT111 G2 and love for its capacity and weight. I carry on my Harley and find it very comfortable on long rides.

    4. On the G2, I purchased a couple. On one after about 50 standard rounds, the mainspring came through the front of the slide. Yow!
      I love the gun, super accurate and great all around shooter, but I cant trust one for EDC.

  22. I think the Steyr C9-A1 in 9mm is the best pistol under $500. I have three of them. I also have four 9mm Sigs: two P320s and two P365s. The Steyr is the most dependable, most accurate, and the best grip of any pistol I have ever fired. The Austrian made Steyr was designed by the same person who designed the Glock and is far superior to the Glocks (IMO and personal experience). The C9-A1 17+1 can also be used for concealed carry.

    1. My youngest stepson bought one several months ago and it’s a great shooting pistol that fits and handles beautifully. Ergonomics are excellent. The trapazoid sights are a bit to get used to but it is extremely accurate. I probably would have bought the Steyr before I bought my subcompact Sig 320.

  23. For a few dollars more I think I’ll stick with the Springfield XD’s, or the Argentine FN 9mm (Browning HiPower clone) But I understand this nitch well enough and would be pleased to carry any of these in a pinch! I confess that the Sig 250 in not a Sig that I like and I’d have to put it on the bottom of this list. I’d suggest that divorce sales and second hand firearms are also not to be overlooked in the aqusition of inexpensive but excellent firearms.

  24. Why are you people posting all this irrelevant notices when our gun rights are being attacked and destroyed by the new democratic Congress???

  25. I have the Smith & Wesson SD9VE and I like it. I paid $279.99. However, I bought a Taurus PT111 G2 for $199.99 that I prefer. I find I am more accurate with it and it conceals better with the slightly shorter barrel. Neither have had any malfunctions of any kind.

    1. I agree on pt111, I own one and absolutely love the little pistol. It’s more accurate than I am and has never failed to cycle or function with any ammo I’ve thrown at it, from cheap aluminum cased factory loads to the hottest hollow point reloads. I don’t know if they are all as good as mine, but you can’t ask for anything more.

  26. I like Sigs but not the 250

    I bought a Beretta APX Combat for $500 net after the Beretta rebate and it’s got a threaded barrel for compensator or suppressor and is optics ready

  27. I have a fondness for the Taurus PT92, which can be purchase new for under $500, used even less expensive. The PT 1911 is right at $500, but used a bi less expensive. Bothe excellent firearms..

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.