The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 12, 2010, 12:34 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2009
Posts: 201
most available and affordable handgun round?

I'm interested in rounds that are in the 9mm to .380 range, but open to other rounds, too.

So, what calibers are the most cost effective and available?

As I recall, the 40 S&W remained available even during the shortage a year ago.

Any opinions would be helpful,

bfskinnerpunk is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 12:36 PM   #2
Coltman 77
Senior Member
Join Date: October 3, 2009
Location: NC
Posts: 1,244
"A man can be destroyed but not defeated".
Ernest Hemingway

Protect our 2nd Amendment Rights -- Join the NRA
Coltman 77 is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 12:50 PM   #3
B. Lahey
Senior Member
Join Date: March 17, 2008
Location: Indiana
Posts: 2,857
9x18mm is usually very cheap (the el-cheapo rooski ammo, anyway). It is also fairly available, but Wal-Mart and some gun shops do not carry it.

The guns tend to be cheap as well, and have no problems consuming the stanky, funky, eastern euro ammunition that is so kind to the wallet.
"A human being is primarily a bag for putting food into; the other functions and faculties may be more godlike, but in point of time they come afterwards."
-George Orwell
B. Lahey is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 01:15 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: November 20, 2008
Posts: 11,054
9mm luger. Can't beat the price of Wolf 9mm.
Skans is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 01:16 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: July 11, 2008
Posts: 2,350
The most "available" and "affordable" cartridges are also usually the most bought and shot. If it's being shot by a lot of shooters, then the manufacturers will make lots of it.

These are the ones you'll find commonly available (gun shops, wal-mart, etc):
.38 special
.357 mag
.40 S&W
.45 ACP

To a lesser estent:
.327 federal
.32 H&R mag
.380 ACP
.357 Sig (this one could honestly fit in either category, depending on where you live)

9mm has an advantage, simply because the US military (and many others) use it, as well as many law enforcement agencies.

.40 S&W is used by many (most?) federal law enforcement agencies, as well as many state, county, and local LEA's.

The .45 ACP is still used by law enforcement, but to a lesser extent than maybe it once was. last time I checked, my county sheriff's dept was still using it. Probably still is. Trends in many areas have gone towards higher capacity in easier-to-carry firearms. The fact that the US military used it with good succcess for many decades means that it has many followers.

.38 special was once very common among law enforcement agencies, but that's not the case any more. I know in 1982, CCSO (Cochise County Sheriff's Office) still carried .38 special +p. The FBI used that ammo, and 9mm in the infamous Miami/Dade county shootout in 1986. Many changes have been made to firearms, cartridges, and bullet technology in the years since that shootout. Regardless of any percieved or real failings, the .38 special remains popular with a lot of shooters, including me.

The .357 magnum has been, is, and likely will remain the cartridge by which other SD cartridges are judged and compared. Unfortunately, it's not as common among law enforcement officers as it once was. The trend, or percieved "need" for higher capacity has largely sent the .357 magnum to a back seat position among law enforcement agencies, yet it remains a great revolver cartridge with a lot of shooters.

I realize that this is a lot more than you asked for, but there is a purpose behind the "side-track". If you want to know what's likely to be commonly available, simply look at what is, or has been popular with law enforcement agencies and the military. That's where the "big money" contracts are for manufacturers, and once tooled up for production, it's not a big deal to supply similar ammo to "civilian" distributors.

The more popular a cartridge is (or has been, in many cases), the more available and inexpensive it's likely to be.

Daryl is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 01:17 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: February 9, 2007
Posts: 3,101
Around here it's 9mm para, 115 grain
Chris_B is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 02:32 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: April 13, 2005
Location: West TN
Posts: 244
wow... I ramble.

The answer is going to depend on where you are, who's in office at the moment, bunch of things.

9mm/.380 range is below almost all the choices listed here, as far as power level. .40 is a larger and more powerful cartridge than 9mm. The only cartridge I can think of, really, that fits in the 9mm/.380 range would be .38 Spl.

When I choose a gun for a reason, such as self-defense or shtf, I like to consider that, even though I can make ammo cheaper than I can buy it, I may run into a situation where I left my reloads at home and I'm out of town... what caliber do I want to be looking for? Certainly .38Spl, .357Mag, 9mm, .45ACP, .40S&W, .44Mag, .30-06, .308, .22LR. I don't want to be trying to find .45 Colt or .357 Sig.

With a semi auto, you're not going to find a multi-cartridge because the power of the cartridge works the action; so it needs to be very consistent from shot to shot, so you don't over-work the action or fail to cycle. You can with a revolver or other manually-loaded action use varying length/power in the same caliber, such as .38/.357 (the numbers lie- they're the same size); .44Spl/Mag; .45Colt/.454Casull/something I don't remember (maybe two more) that all function in the same gun; .40S&W/10mm are the same caliber, but you can only use 'either' in a revolver. Rimless cartridges in a revolver is beyond the scope here so forget that.

Anyway, so the point being, I might choose a .44Mag that I like to shoot .44 Spl in a lot. I load my own but if I'm stuck somewhere and have to buy commercial, I can find real ammo in .44 Magnum a lot of places (but it's not cheap); I may be able to find good .44 Special ammo but it's not cheap; I can probably find 'cowboy load' .44 Spl some places. The idea though, is I can use several choices.

A .357 Magnum revolver is the most versatile gun there is. Made of real steel, not some lightweight. Medium frame, 3-4" barrel, with or without adjustable sights. S&W 19 or 66 (same gun, 66 is just made of stainless steel instead of blued or nickel plated carbon steel) for adjustable sights, 15 or 65 with fixed. I like the fixed better for just about any use except target shooting, but you can make do.

Every gun collection either has one or needs one. No reason it shouldn't be yor first gun. Shoot .38 Spl for learning and practice (this is the only "only gun" gun there is- if you can have two, get this and a .22) with several stages up to full .357 Magnum and in a package that can be concealed; there just ain't no such animal as a gun that beats it for versatility.

Oh, we were talking about cartridges, huh.

You should use the most powerful cartridge you can control well, and that's not to be determined in one cylinder-ful and being scared by the recoil of something like a Magnum. In a good standard revolver, .357 is plenty controllable by most people.

In a situation that has gotten so awful that you are about to freakin' SHOOT SOMEBODY, you are going to wish you had a bigger gun. Carry all the power you can handle.

Then buy LOTs of ammo and start reloading to make it more affordable.

sorry for the meander.

Last edited by Idahoser; August 12, 2010 at 02:41 PM.
Idahoser is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 03:05 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: October 14, 2009
Location: Sunshine and Keystone States
Posts: 4,461
My Walmart is rather well stocked of late, including boxes of 45 Colt and 44 Magnum.
spacecoast is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 03:17 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: December 23, 2009
Posts: 1,578
Federal 9mm was about $8-9/50 at walmart last time I looked which wasn't too long ago. 40cal was only a bit more and was available all through the shortage.

I used to find 38 special for $10-11/50 but not lately. Now is at leat $16.
shafter is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 03:24 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2010
Location: Greenacres, FL
Posts: 933
Sigh, someday I hope 10mm will be on the 'most available' list but it ain't there yet.
Jimmy10mm is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 03:35 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: October 24, 2007
Posts: 551
Where are some of these answers coming from? 9x18 russian ammo? Come on.

Given the caliber range provided, from my own experience in the Walmarts of numerous states AND the larger online players, the only two choices are 9mm and 40 S&W, with 9mm being considerably cheaper. I have been extremely hard pressed to find 45ACP or 357MAG (in good bulk prices) -- though in 20+ trips, there has been a box or two on occasion. I haven't seen a single box of 38 special or 380Auto on any of my trips.

9x19mm (aka Luger, Parabellum) remains the CHEAPEST of any centerfire round and the most abundant. There is no question that for the considerable future, 9mm will be manufactured and as if not more available than the other choices. 9mm is the ONLY caliber for which I can still get 50 rounds for about $10 (just got some Federal 9mm at a Walmart less than a month ago for that, and they didn't have a box count restriction anymore, either).

In addition to a 9mm, pick yourself up a 22LR handgun or rifle. That caliber, even when paying 'full retail' is still relatively cheap and has become relatively abundant once again.
jg0001 is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 04:00 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: July 11, 2008
Posts: 2,350
I used to find 38 special for $10-11/50 but not lately. Now is at leat $16.
Just before the last election, I bought 100 rounds of .38 special. It was Rem/UMC 125 gr SJHP, and came in a 100/pk. I paid $16 and change for it at Wal-Mart. I've no idea how much the same ammo costs now, but it's likely doubled in price.

One of our local "toy stores" has 100 new brass for $22. Empty brass!?!?

I'm sure glad that I have the equipment, materials, and knowledge to produce great ammo at home from my empties.

Daryl is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 04:16 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: November 24, 2009
Location: houston \ flatonia texas
Posts: 224
I noticed quite of few Bersa 380 in gun shop for a decent price.
The ammo is a bit of a different story though.
IRONPONY is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 05:33 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: April 13, 2005
Location: West TN
Posts: 244
Yeah you can't get .380 ammo in anything but a gun store these days, and it's far from cheap. Waste of time anyway but for the pocket Keltec ("It's what you carry when you can't carry a gun").

For several months lately, you couldn't get any of these choices in our Walmarts. It would come in but it would be snatched up before it got to the shelves, you just had to be standing there when they brought it in or you were SOL. There might be .44 Magnum but no 9mm, no .357, no .38, no .40, no .45, STILL no .380, ...

Whenever you go in there, grocery shopping or whatever, buy a brick of .22LR and a box of something useful. Even if you don't have the gun, buy the ammo. Whatever they have.
Idahoser is offline  
Old August 12, 2010, 05:41 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: June 8, 2010
Location: Savannah, Ga.
Posts: 638
In Savannah Ga. 9mm is the best value and found relatively everywhere. But by shear volume 40S&W is the most prevalent round. Maybe that's because it's being produced for Homeland Security...don't know. I just know that it is stacked to the ceilings everywhere. I have close to 3k rounds of the stuff because it's always there to buy, so I come home with a box everytime I go to the store. If I had that money back I'd have a nice H&K or Sig in the safe...which begs the question. Do you spend all your money on guns or ammo? Right now I want more guns and less ammo.
Soldiers are dying every day to protect our freedoms. The least we can do is vote.
ET. is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 04:17 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: August 18, 1999
Posts: 1,023
The most affordable round that is effective is the 9mm. Nothing comes close in price. The only thing I've seen cheaper is rimfire rifle ammo.

.38, .40, etc. are all way higher in price per 50. In some cases, you can get 100 rounds of 9mm for the cost of 50 of another caliber.
.357SIG is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 05:23 PM   #17
cougar gt-e
Senior Member
Join Date: July 25, 2009
Posts: 1,003
9mm? .40s&w?

No way!

The most affordable and available has to be the .22LR.

Not the most powerful or best for defense, but that wasn't the question. As low as 3 cents a shot and you can find them about everywhere.

If you want to stay in the people shooting rounds, then some mil surp rounds like the 7.62x25 tokarev (as low as 7 1/2 cents a shot) or the 9x23 largo around 15 cents. Not available at the corner market, but cheap enough to allow you to buy 5000 for the closet. Having 5000 in the closet is pretty available in my book.

If you just want rounds that can shoot people that you will find in stores everywhere, then 9mm is probably the best bet.
cougar gt-e is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 06:21 PM   #18
Senior Member
Join Date: September 11, 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,198
I bought my first .40 because when all the other hangun ammo was sold out, there was a whole rack of .40. Now, its my favorite caliber. I still have guns in 9mm and 45acp, but I have more 40's than anything else.
"An angry prophet, denouncing the hypocrisies of our time"
zombieslayer is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 08:08 PM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: April 11, 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 537
9 mm at Wal-marts 100 rd WWB.
joegator is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 08:42 PM   #20
Deja vu
Senior Member
Join Date: March 14, 2010
Location: Border of Idaho & Montana
Posts: 2,566
of the ones you listed I would go with the 9mm
Deja vu is offline  
Old August 13, 2010, 08:51 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: January 26, 2009
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 537
+1 on the 9mm, unless you plan on handloading. but thats a can of worms for another forum
THEZACHARIAS is offline  
Old August 15, 2010, 10:35 PM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: November 29, 2008
Posts: 208
I'd say that .22 lr is by far the most available and the most affordable handgun round.

Reading the other posts, it seems that the implication of the question is "what is the most available and affordable handgun round for self defense?", and for that I'd say 9mm. Decades ago it might have been .38 spl, but times have changed.
Wolfeye is offline  
Old August 15, 2010, 11:40 PM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2005
Location: AZ
Posts: 3,113
Milsurp 7.62x25 is currently inexpensive. However, availability might be an issue. You can't buy it at Walmart, and it's not unusual for local gunshops not to carry it or overcharge if they do since it's uncommon.
kozak6 is offline  
Old August 16, 2010, 09:54 AM   #24
Senior Member
Join Date: May 4, 2010
Posts: 5,468
It has to be commodity grade 9mm. 115 grn fmj standard velocity, brass case, can be had for prices ranging between $10 and $15 at discount locations, both B+M stores and on line. Now, what used to be the cheapest handgun ammo, 158 grain .38 special, is running $16 and up.

Right now, at Graf's, an online dealer, you can get $10 steel case wolf in 9mm, or $12 federal 9mm. The lowest price of .38 is $16, the same as a .40 SW.

Graf's has a $5 flat rate shipping charge.

This post is assuming two things, first is that you're talking about centerfire, factory loaded ammunition, second is that you have internet purchasing available. Local stores commonly will have $10-$11 9mm commodity grade ammo once in a while, too.
briandg is offline  
Old August 16, 2010, 09:57 AM   #25
Senior Member
Join Date: April 13, 2005
Location: West TN
Posts: 244
Oh there's a lot more assumptions than that going on, was the reason for my earlier post about choosing the caliber for other reasons.

FMJ 9mm is useless for anything but target, for one thing. 9mm isn't so cheap when you need something useful.
Idahoser is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:33 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Page generated in 0.15834 seconds with 7 queries