9 Trustworthy pistols you can buy on a $300 budget

When it comes to finding the perfect self-defense firearm, most people know they don’t have a fortune to spend. But the good news is, you don’t need a fortune, because there are plenty of handgun models on the market today that are not only high quality, but they are very affordable.

Now, when it comes to self-defense, many people believe that rifles and shotguns make better weapons of choice, simply because they pack a greater punch. No doubt that’s true. But for the majority of self-defense situations, you’re not going to be somewhere you’re either allowed to carry a rifle or shotgun, or in a place where carrying one of those two weapons is practical.

Home defense in another matter, but even here, a rifle makes a poor choice for a number of reasons, including impracticality and the potential for you to shoot through your home or apartment into another home or apartment.

So for all-around self-defense involving a firearm, a handgun is your best bet.

Costs vary and many new guns are expensive, no question about it. You can buy a used firearm, but you run the risk of essentially buying someone else’s problem. There’s nothing more disheartening than taking that used pistol you just bought out to the range and hearing a soft “click” rather than a “bang” when you pull the trigger.

Most brand-new guns right out of the box function as they are supposed to, and while it may take several hundred rounds to “break in” a new handgun, you need that time anyway to become the expert you need to be. Regarding new purchases, there are good models on the market you can purchase for around $300, as noted by Off The Grid News. Let’s look at them:

Taurus 800 series: These are full-sized handguns with polymer frames and chambered in the most popular rounds (which means it will be easy to scrounge ammunition for them if stuff hits the fan) – 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP. Also, these guns come with 17-, 15- and 12-round capacities, respectively. (Note: The famous Colt M1911-style .45 ACP model semi-automatic only holds seven or eight rounds — unless you buy an extended magazine.) One advantage of these models, besides the fact that Taurus makes a reliable weapon, is that they come with a “strike two” feature, which lets you pull the trigger again if the primer in the chambered round fails to ignite. These pistols are no longer being manufactured by Taurus, but you can likely still buy them online or via your local gun shop.

FMK 9C1 G2: This is a budget-friendly 9 mm handgun that is similar in size and feel to a more expensive Glock 19. Both of them come with a low-bore axis and similar grip angles and safeties. Comes with a 14-round magazine and again, if you like the feel of a Glock, you’ll like this pistol too.

KelTec P11: Compact and polymer framed, this affordable handgun may not have that refined look of a more expensive weapon, but it makes up for that in the way it handles. Also, it comes with a 10-round magazine and features low-profile 3-dot sights. When unloaded, it weighs in at under a pound.

Bersa Thunder 380: A favorite of the ladies, this handgun fires the smaller caliber .380, though with hollow point ammunition you still get good stopping power — and without the heavier recoil of a 9mm or larger. It features a single-stack eight-round magazine that is easy to load, a double-action/single-action trigger system and a manual safety. Great little gun at a great price.

Rock Island Armory M200 and M206: These are revolvers, so for those of you who prefer them over semi-automatics, these are good choices. These budget-friendly guns fire .38 cal. rounds, and both hold six bullets. The M200 is larger, with a four-inch barrel, compared to the M206, which features a compact two-inch barrel.

Other notables: Taurus Model 85 (revolver); SCCY CPX-2; Taurus 100 Series; Sarsilmaz CM9.

See more helpful tips and firearms information at and

J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for and, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.

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  1. In the majority of cases, exchanges happen at close range (3-15′). I find the .380 sufficient at that range. Using a FMJ I have put them through the trunk lid of an old wreck, and it has gone through to the dash, though most ended up in the back of the front seat. I carried a FI Model D .380 pistol as a backup for many years. Today, I still have that pistol which sold for about $110 in 1976. I also have a Bersa Firestorm .380 for CCW use.

    We talk about innovations, which are all well and good, but, there are many “pre-owned” firearms to be had at gun shops, pawn shops, and private sales. Police Department bulletin boards can be a good source.

  2. I just purchased a new Ruger Security 9 that I would recommend for a quality gun to be for family protection in the lower price range, $320, and you can not do better than a Ruger!

  3. The .380 is as small as you want to get and even then you want to make sure the ammo you use is the type that expands quickly and reliably. Do Not use FMJ ammo as personal defense ammo as it will not expand in the assailants body but just pass through the body and it WILL go through drywall and could endanger others. With the variety of ammo available now the .380 is fine if you pick the proper self-defense ammo. I like these compressed copper rounds with the flutes that cause a lot of hydro damage.

  4. I’ve carried .380s in my younger years in Europe. With modern ammunition they are still adequate. Two favorites were the SIG P320 which was everything a PPK should have been with a superior trigger. It’s single stack mag is a minor draw back but anyone using an automatic with only one mag is carrying a death trap. The other was a CZ 82. Excellent capacity but a mite heavy for the caliber. Very accurate.
    My all time favorite in the .380acp caliber is the Browning BDA .380. This is actually s Beretta but has a slide mounted safety which fits larger hands. Good looking, shoots straight and handles various ammunition’s well. Today I carry larger calibers in the .40S&W and .45acp range. S&W has several concealed carry 9mm (Shield) that if you shop around can be had in the low $300 range.

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