Most individuals who buy firearms from us intend to use them for home or personal defense. More and more Americans are crossing the invisible line in deciding to exercise their Second Amendment right to own a firearm. With first-time gun ownership on the rise, it’s no surprise that many shoppers don’t want to dump two months worth of paychecks on their weapon of choice. Gun industry consumers are always searching for less expensive ways to fill their hands with firepower. Luckily for the consumer, technology is rapidly advancing manufacturing techniques. Unlike the old days of the Saturday Night Special, many entry-level firearms function perfectly well, especially when properly maintained. We thought we would highlight a few of our favorite low-cost defensive firearms we think function as advertised. Who knows, you might find something you can’t live without!
There are more variations of this shotgun than you can count. The Mossberg 500 is inexpensive, reliable and devastatingly powerful. A pump-action shotgun is one of the most popular choices for home defense—and with good reason. The 500’s modular design means the owner can swap out after market accessories freely. While I’m still a huge fan of the Remington 870’s smoother action, the Mossberg 500 gives an insane amount of reliability at a lower cost. Mossberg drills and taps the receivers of their 500s so you can easily add a rail for ghost rings or a red dot sight. Moreover, you can be sure that every round will chamber when you need it most. Watch your shoulder though, the lightweight aluminum receiver combined with 00 buckshot make a recipe for heavy-duty recoil. Some smaller framed shooters can’t handle the intense kick of a lightweight 12-gauge.
Even though it’s basically a Mossberg 500, the Maverick 88 is worth mentioning as it is an even lower cost option for home defense. The Maverick 88 is a less costly manufactured, simplified version of the pump action, 12-gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun. Factory Maverick 88’s feature a black, synthetic-only stock and forearm, cylinder bore—although chokes are available—and cross-bolt safety. Most accessories are interchangeable with a Mossberg 500 except for the pump. While the 88 gives you fewer customization options, it is no less deadly to intruders. You will save between 60-100 dollars on today’s market by choosing a Maverick over a base model 500. However, the receiver on an 88 is not drilled and tapped for scope mounts; what you see is what you get.
Kel-Tec made their name in the firearms world by producing low-cost handguns for the average shooter. They’re reliable, fun to shoot, and most importantly—really cheap. The double stack magazine holds 10 rounds while still maintaining a tiny size. It is one of the least expensive ways to get into a 9mm that will work for thousands of rounds. It won’t win any beauty contests, but who cares! The barrel is near the minimum length possible with a Browning tilting-barrel system of operation. Some of you are probably wondering why I chose the Kel-Tec P-11 over the Kel-Tec PF-9. Since this is a home defense article, I figured that concealability was less important than magazine capacity. Watch out for that trigger though—before you break it in, it will be like pulling a sled across a rock pile.
Taurus Model 85PFS
Nothing says reliability like a revolver. Don’t let that old school action fool you, this is a high tech piece of engineering. The ultra-light construction and ergonomic grips of the Taurus Model 85PFS are just as modern as a high-tech battle rifle. The durable construction allows you to load +P ammunition, which means far more powerful cartridge choices. However, with that perfect reliability comes a compromise. Many .38 Special revolvers only hold five rounds, so you’ll have to make them count. Still, at less than $300 and you have a gun you can use to defend your home, or take with you for concealed carry. I own two of these weapons and really enjoy shooting them. Hold on tight though, that +P ammo makes for a fairly jumpy ride.
Bersa Thunder .380
I like to call the Bersa Thunder .380 an underrated sleeper. We rarely, if ever have issues with the ones our customers purchase. I have personally fired one on several occasions and have to say it performs splendidly. The Thunder .380 has a light aluminum alloy frame that reduces weight for easier carry, yet the pistol retains enough mass (weight) to help tame recoil. The blowback, fixed-barrel design theoretically aids accuracy, and it appears the vast majority of Thunder .380 users report favorably on the issue. The nearly straight-in alignment of the chamber and the topmost cartridge in the magazine seems to be responsible for the Bersa’s reliable chambering and cycling. The frame features a long rearward tang over the grips, which effectively protects your thumb web from hammer-bite or slide-bite. Most importantly, when you pull the trigger, it goes bang. Even the gun snobs can’t argue with that.