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Old October 6, 2002, 09:16 PM   #1
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defense gun on a budget

i have a neighbor who has decide to buy a handgun for protection. mostly home defense, also some thing that could be carried easily in his car. he has gone shooting with me for acouple of years and has done well with auto & revolver's. so he finally decides to get his own but tells me he can only spend $200. suggestions? i draw a blank on decent guns in this range. 187
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Old October 6, 2002, 09:42 PM   #2
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Lots of used .357 double action revolvers on the market...

They would definitely fill the bill.

I like Rugers for their reliability but of course would have nothing against ANY of the major names. (Colt, S&W, Taurus). The thing about Ruger, Colt and S&W is they have been around so long there are more of their guns on the market.
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Old October 6, 2002, 09:49 PM   #3
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The Makarov (9x18) is an extremely reliable, very affordable small semi-auto pistol that can be had for $150.00 or less.

You can learn more at
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Old October 6, 2002, 10:10 PM   #4
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Lots of people recommend the Makarov, but before you rush out and buy one check for availability of ammo. 9x18 is not available in my area, have to mail order it.
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Old October 6, 2002, 10:42 PM   #5
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I'd go with a used revolver and learn how to use speedloaders. An authoritative .357 says a lot more than a Markarov.
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Old October 6, 2002, 10:52 PM   #6
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I like the idea of a used .357 (I second what Dale said about Colt/Ruger/S&W). I also share SK's concerns about 9mm Makarov ammo availability. Another possibility is a Kel-Tec P11. You can pick up a new one for 225 or so. Finding one used under 200 shouldn't be hard. If budget is an issue, 9mm is the most economical (even cheaper than .38).
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Old October 7, 2002, 12:11 AM   #7
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A used Ruger Security Six should be close on $. They are excellent guns and one of the very best values on the market.
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Old October 7, 2002, 12:49 AM   #8
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The Mak is a good little gun but not my first choice in calibers for a defensive gun..the 357 wheel is an excellent choice. Lots available..also check out pawn shops for FEG/Arcus Hi Power clones...9mm +P is right up there and is easy to shoot defensively.
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Old October 7, 2002, 12:51 AM   #9
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Used revolver in .38spl, if he wants it to look decent he may have to up his price about $20-50 though and in .357 he'd probably be starting about $50 higher for a good one.

New Makarov, I know the caliber is weaker than most people want in a HD gun but it is new and has a good reputation for reliability and accuracy.

New Bersa. See Mak comments (it is a .380) with the addition that I have one and can vouch for it firsthand (very accurate and reliable- best $215 I ever spent).

New FEG HiPower clone. 9mm, accurate, reliable, and can generally be found for around $200 in many areas and that often includes a high cap mag (online and in many areas may need to add about $50 though), what more can one ask for?

Also, with a more experienced handgunner's help and a little luck he may be able to find a good deal on a used auto that will be at or near his range. Especially from brands that are reliable but inexpensive new (metal framed Taurus autos, Rugers, etc).

New Taurus 82 revolver. This is a 4" .38 revolver. I bought one used as my first gun. It was a decent gun. The newer models seem even better (from side by side comparisons, but only dry fire no range time, I found a brand new one to be just as tight and solid and to have every bit as good a trigger as the new S&W M10 next to it). Around here where guns are usually a bit overpriced a local dealer stocks them for $289 (a bit over his range but it is new, it will be boringly reliable, it is easier to find than the FEG HP, ammo is more available than 9x18 Mak, and it is more powerful than the Bersa in .380 or the Mak). In some areas I wouldn't be surprised if it could be found for around $250 (most guns are overpriced here and it is around $290 here).
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Old October 7, 2002, 08:09 AM   #10
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Recent Dobbs purchases, that haven't had a single failure:

Ruger P95, $199
Taurus 65, $195
Bulgerian Makarov, $150

I'd suggest the used 357 revolver for a novice.
Too Much is always better than Not Enough
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Old October 7, 2002, 09:44 AM   #11
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I would sugest a used .357 revolver for your friend, primarily for the ammunition flexibility. Full power .357 loads might be two powerful until he gets more experience, but if so, he could use .38 Specials at first.
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Old October 7, 2002, 11:38 AM   #12
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Do a search on reviews...

Stephen Camp has done a bunch of reviews of guns that you might find in that price range (specifically for people who want defensive guns but are low on cash). Go do a search. The ones that come to mind recently are:
Surplus Star pistols (I think the B, Super B and BM are all in the price range, and considered good guns in 9mm)
surplus Makarovs (first choice in 9x18)

New guns:
FEG PA63 - supposed to be accurate and functional, but owners don't seem to find them very ergonomic without some trigger work and grips. On the other hand, they're $100 each. The Makarov is supposed to be better for a 9x18. Easy to conceal.
Bersa - you see Bersa .380's every once in a while. They are the same size as the FEG, and considered to be a high quality, low price gun.
A used FEG PJK-9hp is would come in around $200, and is a good HP clone.

And of course, there are good quality S&W used .38 and .357 revolvers all over the place.

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Old October 7, 2002, 12:18 PM   #13
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The Maks and guns of that type can be a handfull to shoot.

Better off with a 38 or 357 revolver. Plenty of used ones out there for well under $200. Easy to learn to shoot and ammo is plentifull.
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Old October 7, 2002, 12:48 PM   #14
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Definitely look at the used revolver market....

A very nice .38 spcl or .357 mag can be found on the used revolver market for less than $200.

I have owned two EAA "Windicators" - one in .38 spcl and the other in .357 mag. I bought them both brand new for less than $200. Charter 2000 also sells a .38 spcl for near $200 brand-new, although I've read reports about poor quality control.

They're out there; it is a matter of patience, reading Jim Marsh's "what to look for in a used revolver" on this forum and doing one's homework prior to the trip to the gun store.
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Old October 7, 2002, 02:41 PM   #15
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I'd go w/ a nice 357 magnum revo.
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Old October 7, 2002, 03:03 PM   #16
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If I had only $200 to spend on a defense gun, I'd either buy a Makarov and a basket full of ammo and spare mags, or a used .357 Magnum wheelgun.
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Old October 7, 2002, 05:19 PM   #17
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Ditto what lendringser said.tom.
Thank Goodness we're back on line.

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Old October 7, 2002, 06:57 PM   #18
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Wheelgun on a budget, Dan Wesson Model 15.

Used Dan Wesson Model 15's in very good condition with 4" barrel can be found for $175 give or take. They are built like a tank, and their accuracy is without question. One of the best buys in a used .357 Magnum.
Most holsters made for the S&W "L" frame will fit the DW Model 15.
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Old October 7, 2002, 07:41 PM   #19
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thanks for the replys, well we went looking today, hit the pawnshops and gunshops only 357s we found for $200 or under looked like they had been dragged behind a truck. didn't see a makarov any where. (in fact i don't think i've seen a mak for over a year.) found a couple rossi 38s in his range but the DA trigger pull was to much for him so the search continues. i work part time in a gunshop so maybe we'll get a good trade in soon. thanks 187
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Old October 7, 2002, 07:57 PM   #20
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Old October 8, 2002, 01:07 AM   #21
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One word: Makarov

For the money, there is no finer handgun. You can get these things new for $175 and a pretty darn good used one for less than $125. Ammo is cheap if ya get surplus stuff from gunshows.
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Old October 8, 2002, 03:49 AM   #22
Ala Dan
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I think a good, used revolver in .357 magnum
should be the first consideration here. Lot's
of police trade-in's are available, at or near
the price you are willing to accept!

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
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Old October 8, 2002, 07:48 AM   #23
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A used S&W or Ruger wheelgun, or a used Ruger Semi-auto fits his $ range nicely... (the semi-auto might run a tad more) but all of those I listed are built like tanks... take reasonable abuse in stride, and ALWAYS function...

Hard to go wrong with one of these guns!

gun and car collector.
Rare cars, and rarer guns.
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Old October 8, 2002, 11:26 AM   #24
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good thread with many good answers. if there is no hurry, as in no impending threat, take the time to shop. there are good guns at good prices out there. dont forget to offer less, they may take it.

get some ear and eye protection configured in the budget.
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Old October 8, 2002, 11:37 AM   #25
aug e. dog
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There's lots of great advice already, so I can only add my own experience. The first handgun I purchased was a Makarov for about $150. It is reliable, but not necessarily easy to learn how to shoot well (at least for me). My only prior experience with shooting handguns was with Berettas, and they were much easier. I can now shoot my Makarov reasonably well, but it took awhile.

The second handgun I purchased was a S&W Model 28. This revolver was easy to shoot and I was pretty accurrate with it right away. If you could find a used S&W .357 mag with a 4" barrell, for about $200, I'd say this option is your best bet. The learning curve is much quicker than that of the Makarov, and you have a more powerful cartridge to boot.
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