During my time selling firearms, I’ve received a fair few questions regarding what I recommend to defend a home on a limited budget. Having gone through the stress and rigors of being a young father with money being exceptionally tight, I fully understand the want to protect those you love while still making sure you don’t break the bank on a weapon. For those that are financially conscious and are looking for something effective but inexpensive, fret not there are some options out there for you. They might not be the prettiest options, but they work for the intended purpose. Besides, we’ve never heard stories come out of bad guys that noticed an armed citizen was using a cheaper weapon.
Shotguns: Models To Look For
A shotgun is typically my first suggestion for anyone looking to defend their home on a budget. Shotguns are a little more forgiving in the close quarters scenarios, such as one’s hallway or living room, and provide ample firepower for an inexpensive price. Now, there are certainly some expensive shotguns out there, but we aren’t going to focus on the Benelli’s and Wilson Combats of the shotgun world, but rather the lower end of the spectrum.
My first suggestion, and the one I’ve sold the most of, is the Mossberg Maverick 88. These are typically found in the sub $300 range, and perform like a top despite whatever sketchy ammunition are fed through them. The Maverick 88 holds a lot in common with its more expensive sibling, the Mossberg 500, but is priced for a beginner shooter or a budget minded shooter in mind. There are some plastic parts, but they are essentially in places where wear and tear isn’t going to be an ultimate concern. They come in a variety of barrel lengths, starting at 18.5 inches and going up to 28 inches, with capacity varying between 4+1 rounds to 7+1 rounds.
The NEF Pardner or IAC Hawk 982 are also quite excellent for defending the home. These Norinco clones of the Remington 870 are heavy, but dependable. I picked up one sometime ago for a song, around $180 or so, and thus far it has performed despite the cheap stuff I feed through it from Academy Sports. They have a fair bit of overlap in replacement parts and accessories from the Remington 870, and anyone really seeking a cheaper gun and ammo to get proficient would be hard pressed to pass up this real value of a firearm.
On the other hand, if you want the prestige of an American made firearm, pawn shops and gun shows sometimes offer up police trade-in shotguns. I’ve seen Winchester 1200s, Mossberg 500s, and Remington 870s for well below retail in some cases, and all of the aforementioned firearms have a very long life ahead of them. As with any used firearm purchase, a thorough inspection is suggested since the purchase will indeed be final. The other really neat thing about these old police guns is you really don’t see the old wood stocks and blued steel out there anymore, which is a bit of Americana any shooter can appreciate.
Handguns: How Much To Spend
Generally speaking, I try to recommend most shooters look to spend at least 300 minimum on a handgun. With a lot of quality low-cost options out there, it’s relatively easy to find a sidearm to defend yourself or homestead.
While they don’t have the same amenities as their more expensive siblings, the Smith & Wesson SD series makes an adequate sidearm. The trigger is a bit rougher, and you can certainly tell some of the cost cutting measures taken on the pistol, but it is entirely serviceable. There is some sight compatibility with the M&P series, if you should feel so inclined to obtain night sights or higher quality metal sights over the default plastic option.
The SD series is a revamp of the Sigma series, and provided you are willing to abide by a heavier trigger pull can be setup to your liking for less than procuring a M&P and can be generally had for under $380.
Makarovs can make a relatively inexpensive sidearm as well, with Bulgarian and East German models being the cream of the crop. 9x18mm isn’t the ballistic equivalent of 9×19, but has worked well in service in the former Soviet states for some time. The ammo is dirt cheap as well, which is a great thing considering you are going to want to practice quite a bit. Prices can vary considerably for a Makarov, but you can expect between $200 to $300 for one in good condition.
My personal recommendation is the Rock Island Armory GI 1911. Once you get past the antiquated blade sights, you honestly get a highly dependable and cost effective .45. Parts compatibility is like other 1911s, with some fitting required for certain items, but in terms of general accessories and holster you’d be hard pressed to find more options outside of perhaps Glock. The Rock Island GI model can be general found for between $380 to $400 new.
Things To Keep In Mind
As with all firearm purchases intended for social work, you do want to set aside enough funds to procure ammunition for practice and self-defense. Ball ammunition will work just fine in a pistol, but you are going to want to fire your intended defensive load to get a feel for how it will perform. Powder loads, projectile weights, and a few other factors can result in a vastly different experience.
Outside of my own personal recommendations, I would highly suggest scouring used gun listings and classifieds to find a great deal. Armslist and other resources can provide a great many leads on a potential weapon for much less than retail, but as with any used gun purchase make sure to take a friend to inspect or bring it to a reputable gunsmith to give it a once over. You don’t expect to buy a used car without knowing it functions, why do the same for something you are trusting to defend your home?
Just remember, protecting your life doesn’t mean emptying your wallet, but rather understand the limitations or shortcomings of any platform.