Bang for Your Buck: 11 Best Semiautomatics on a Budget

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When it comes to self-defense, the vast majority of military and tactical experts choose to carry a sidearm, rather than a shotgun or rifle. Semi-automatic pistols, in specific, are hands down winner when you put it to vote. And the reasons are simple.

Semi-auto pistols offer a great deal of tactical advantages over other firearms. They’re lighter, more compact, and they hold plenty of ammo. For these reasons, they make a much more practical “everyday carry” than a pump shotgun or even a Colt revolver.

Plus, there’s just something really nice about squeezing off a few rounds through a semi-auto. Advances in technology have made these guns a real pleasure to shoot.

Choosing a Handgun

Buying your first handgun can be intimidating; I’ll be the first to admit it. Not only are there hundreds of choices, but there are literally millions of snobby opinions to wade through as well. You know what they say about opinions… right?

That’s why I wanted to write this article, to simplify things a little bit. I realize that these are my opinions, in a sense, but the reviews of all of these guns are as objective as I am can be.

The most important thing to understand is that you can’t go wrong with any of these five contenders. They’re each affordable, reliable, and fun to shoot. And should the SHTF, you’ll be ready.

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  1. .44 auto mag
    .45 1911 colt acp

  2. The Kimber in .45 cal. or Para Ordanace in .45 cal. one of these would be my choice the kimber being #1 you might say why .45 cal. its because they do not make a .46 cal. . At this time i carry a rock island .45 compact , it is a bit heavy but has performed well for me .

  3. I guess if your idea of handguns are the underrated ones, then these may be good picks,BUT if your serious about carrying or having a handgun for home protection 9mm and the anemic 40cal are not the ones you would want (unless you have a death wish).

    With so many great 10mm and 45cal out there why would you really like to piss off a drug induced killer with such small guns?

    Even a 22cal is better than no gun but I don’t carry one for self protection and neither should you!!!!

  4. where can you buy these and are they legal in California, probably not with all the libs we have here, I think there a 10 clip limit ? am I right ? i love shooting guns, but I’ve never owned one very expensive and I hear it’s hell getting ammo here now.
    what caliber shells do these guns shoot ?

  5. So… you’re saying that a .40 S&W is a “small” caliber with no stopping power AND that I shouldn’t carry a gun for self protection? Disagree completely. A 9mm is more than enough to stop an attacker if you’re using the right ammo.

  6. James Hauenstein

    I can’t believe you left out the Smith & Wesson M&P pistols from this list in 9mm, .40S&W, or 45 ACP. I have the M&P full size in 0.40 S&W and it has performed flawlessly from day one and ergonomically it feels way better in the hand than the Glock. Glocks are also reliable from everything I’ve read and heard, but there name should have been Block from the way look and feel. IMO.
    The M&P won’t break the bank either, their selling new for $441 at Bud’s Gun right now.

  7. You can buy any of these pistols in California, but you’re right, they will come with 10-round magazines. Most of these models can be bought in 9mm, .40, or even .45 ACP. Ammo is scarce in some areas, but you can order it online if your local stores are running low. The good thing about these calibers is that they are extremely common.

  8. The M&P is definitely a great choice. Thanks for pointing out the omission!

  9. It is good to stick with military calibers (9mm, .45) and common law enforcement calibers (.40). This ensures re-supply and availability of ammo. The 9mm (9x19mm, (.38 cal)) is the current, standard issue caliber for all branches of US military. It is also standard issue for most NATO nations around the world. The tried and true .45 ACP is used by many PD’s, military special ops, and many other agencies. It is highly popular with US civilians (used in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam), but it is not used hardly anywhere else in the world. The .40 cal (.40S&W) is popular with many PD’s, FBI, other agencies, but is not a military caliber and not used much anywhere else except the US.

    I would be content with any of the above calibers. All are deadly. All have high performance ammo and cheaper FMJ for targets. The edge for availability of ammo would go to 9mm.

    The bottom line, even with a .22 (BTW, the AR’s are .22 cal.(.223, 5.56x45mm), accurate shooting is what counts. You have to hit what you’re aiming at! I’d rather have a .22 squirrel rifle than a spear or, a rock!

  10. I own a “Baby Glock” 26; too small for accuracy at much distance, but not a factor in home defense. Easy to conceal and carry, though I do not. 9mm is not very powerful, but 9 in the same general area ought to do the trick. My wife, on the other hand, owns a .45 Colt Commander with Crimson Trace laser grips. If the little red dot isn’t intimidating enough, the .45 rounds (8) end any argument. Still, my dream handgun is a Colt Python .357 magnum; my brother once owned one,and I’ve never shot anything better.

  11. Is the P95 a descendent of the P89? If so you can’t beat it! They should have won the ARMY competition in the 80s. They beat all comers, hands down, except in the one area it counted the most; political clout! As far as caliber, why would anyone want to have up to twenty rounds to blaze away inside your home. A .45 well placed will stop the fight right now! End of story! With a 9mm you really want to be blazing away with your family in the home?

  12. And for those of us with smaller hands…the S&W M&P .40 Shield!
    I am about 5’3″ and pretty athletic, but some of the guns you have listed are just too girthy.

  13. When life of self or loved ones is at stake I bought the best, H&K. I know its a lot of money but I have fired literally thousands of all kinds of rounds with NEVER a failure to feed or misfire. That’s what I call dependable.

  14. You are so right about the bajilloion snooty opinions , on reading your article I realized I had a few hundred of my own . I didn’t see anything I liked until you posted the CZ , an incredible bargain . The Remington 1911 and their new compact 9 mm are good buys but not in the low dollar range . One rule of thumb is to select a caliber in wide spread , and esp. military , use . The .40 does not qualify .

  15. In the words of a Seal and my own experiences as a Marine. (After a well placed double tap to the head, the caliber of the ammo is of no importance.) Availability of said ammo as well as just how dedicated you are to practicing (1000 plus rounds or more or until your fingers bleed) thats how you know you can defend you and yours..

  16. Talking about FMJ rounds is one thing but not that relevant for a self defense discussion. For self defense most of us use modern self defense ammunition. In those cases the difference between calibers is very small indeed. 9MM is the smaller standard, 40 caliber is actually 10 MM and 45 is 11 MM. If you think 2MM makes a big difference I am not sure just how big you think 2MM really is. In all cases the wound channel is just not that large. Handguns are pretty anemic compared to a rifle or a shotgun.

    Shot placement has always trumped everything else including caliber so it should be a primary criteria for round selection.

    The advantage of 9MM over the rest with good self defense ammo like the Hornady Critical Defense or Critical Duty is based on simple physics. Because of the physics of recoil a 9MM will be quicker to recover from the recoil. This should mean faster shots with accuracy comparable to the other calibers. The more you can hit the assailant with speed the more likely you are to strike something vital that will end the fight. Furthermore a 9MM in a comparable size pistol will hold more rounds than a 40 or a 45. While this may not be significant when facing a single opponent, it can be a critical factor when facing a gang. I teach my students to plan for the worst case.

    In my classes I teach one handed point shooting and shooting from either hand. Very few if any of my students can handle a 40 caliber or a 45 with the same degree of combat accuracy as they can with a 9MM. Add dynamic movement and shooting on the move and it gets even worse. Under these conditions it is unlikely if not impossible to use the sights on a gun unless they are red dots. In addition it is difficult to keep both hands on the gun while doing dynamic movement. The free hand helps with the balance of the body.

    I do not know about anyone else but I have no desire to stand and exchange gunfire with a bad guy. I am going to get out of the way while engaging my assailant or assailants and making myself a hard target.

    The best data on wounds comes from the city docs who examine people who have been shot. Until the bullet is recovered the doctors state that they cannot tell what the person was shot with until they pull the bullet out. The wound channel is not that different.

    Choose what ever you can shoot with combat accuracy when being assaulted but do not believe standing in front of a paper target with two hands on the gun prepares you for much of anything. Using this type shooting to decide the best choice for a self defense handgun. will lead to false conclusions and could end up getting you killed.

  17. I would not have a XD-M 40 or a Glock 40 for a VERY important reason. The only safety they have is the trigger safety for both, and the grip safety on the XD-M. I know of too many people who have injured themselves with the Glock because of the trigger safely, and I am just one of MANY people who have had accidental discharges with XD-M and XD-S pistols. The two Rugers have real thumb safeties, as does the CZ 75. I highly recommend the CZ. I have the newer model P-07 Duty in both .40 & 9mm. They two of the best shooting pistols I have ever used. If you can afford it, I also recommend the Sig Sauer P-227. It s the ultimate .45. 10 rounds and is almost identical to the P-226.

  18. I would like ot know the opinions of others on this. I have a Glock 19 9mm, and Springfield XD 40, and Baretta F92 9mm, a S & W 357 Mag (which is still in the box and over 30 years old–never been shot) and a 44 Mag which i have shot extensively. I had it magnaported many years back, changed handles, etc. Nice gun but big–Dirty Harry model 29. The 357 is a model 27-2 and I was thinking about trading it in on a Sig or Kimber 45.

    I like the semi auto rather than the revolver (more shots) and it seems that the Glock, Baretta (a few jams) and the Springfield are more ammo available. Wouold anybody else do this or is this a bad move.

  19. I am a Korean War Veteran and carried a 45 and 30 cal. carbine. I loved the 45 and could field strip it in my sleep. I recently purchased a Ruger 380 LCP. I also have a Smith & Weston 9mm SW9VE, both semi-automatic. Haven’t been shooting in many years. My wife and I jointed our local gun club and will attend our first class Saturday. We both have carry permits and I plan to start carrying after the gun class. My concern is self defense both at home and when out and about. Enjoyed very much reading others comments.

  20. I’ve got an XD 40 cal, very good reliable weapon! I’ve also got a Remington 1911-R1 45 that I’ll put up against anything out there!! Close to 5000 rounds w/o a malfunction!!

  21. Home defense: S&W M&P 45 w night sights & ext. mag = 15 rounds (nightstand bulldog gun safe).

    CCW: S&W M&P 9c = 13 rounds at 4 o’clock + 2 each: 17 round extra reload magazines
    CCW backup if SHTF : Kahr cm9 in ankle holster = 7 rounds
    I’m serious about carrying and having a handgun for home protection!

  22. When all is said and done…. dead from a 9mm is the same as dead from a .22! Bullet placement is the key. Even then, what we call, “killed instantly,” is rarely instantly. It takes several seconds in most case studies.
    That being said….. I carried a Smith and Wesson Model 59, a 9mm, as my law enforcement duty weapon. This is back in the 80s and ammuntion technology has grown by leaps and bounds since then. Today, I have a 9mm back up weapon and prefer my .45. I carried the .45 in the military, and then as my off duty concealed carry choice. Practice and almost anyone will adjust to the recoil.

  23. I have the Springfield XD in .357 Sig with a green laser. Very accurate.

  24. You really shouldn’t disrespect the 9mm .38 special or .40 cal as all three have solid reputations in law enforcement and personal defense use. I so often hear folks praising the “big bore” calibers as the “only” gun to have for this and that and without question they have supreme stopping power. But, lets face it, caliber effectiveness is akin to a man’s bedroom prowess in that size really don’t matter when you know how to use what you have. A well placed shot (in most circumstances) will leave someone really well screwed! You know the old saying; One would much rather suffer a near miss from a .50 cal as opposed to a direct hit from a .22 cal any day! 😉

  25. I like your choices and I own one of them but why are they all 40’s? I am a big fan of 45’s, they are easy to shoot and have great stopping power. I have an xd that I got shortly after they came out that is reasonably accurate. Now I have an XDm that is very accurate and also an XDs for concealed carry. They all are comfortable to shoot.

  26. Proper training and practice will always make you a better “gunfighter I have to agree with my So Cal marine brother GOD BLESS AMERICA -stay armed and be prepared !!! Semper Fi

  27. There are way to many other choices out there, I have a Beretta 92 9mm, Stoger 9mm, Colt 1911 45, several Rugers in 22,and the best is my S&W 357 SS 6″ which as we all know has the best stopping power of them all. Shot placement is always the key to stopping the threat, but when it comes to home defense my shot gun will be the first thing I grab and the last thing any idiot would what pointed at them end of story. A saga with a 20 round drum mag coming at ya !! enough said. Notice how all the calibers are the most readily available and reloadable.

  28. magazines are not clips ..clips are open racks of rounds that are fitted into the top of open breeches such as the m-1..
    magazines are closed boxes the only visible bullet is the top bullet and part of the next…
    look up stripper clips …mags are not clips …

  29. Hugh
    I carry an XD40 every day, love it, the safety features it has is prudent to quick draw / action sometimes needed in L.E. mine has never let me down. every body should own one.

  30. The SIG P-226 may be what you are looking for. This is what I did: I bought it in .22LR and then bought a .40S&W conversion kit, and then bought a .357 SIG barrel. My total cost was right $1,000.00. This is cheaper than buying either a .40 or .357 Sig. I HIGHLY recommend the .357 SIG round. As per the Texas State Police, it is the only round that will stop a charging pit bull dead in its tracks. It is extremely accurate. SIG now makes their own .357 rounds, and they are fabulous. The .357 SIG is equal to .357 revolver round.

  31. I carry a 1911 .45 acp Kimber compact or my Rock Island full size while my wife carries 9mm CZ compact, & she keeps full size CZ 75 in her car. I really like CZ pistol coz it’s a clone of Browning design & the ergonomics are a pretty much like 1911 or better. Occasionally I would alternate carrying with my 9mm or .45acp depending of what clothes I’m wearing. Yep, I prefer 1911 .45 acp coz it’s my first pistol that I trained myself with & am very comfortable with it. I rely in both ammunitions & believe could stop or neutralize a threat with a good shot placement, no argument about it. Training is the key. Be safe everyone. Learned a lot from all the previous post, thanks a bunch!

  32. choice of a firearm is just that, a choice. i would stick with the basics that afford readily available ammunition replacement.
    i prefer .45 auto (kimber) for close quarters 25 yards
    12 gauge shot gun Benelli M1 Super 90 100 yards
    5.56 M1 AR 15 accurate to 400 yards suppressed
    Remington 700 .308 Sniper rifle accurate to 1000 yards suppressed.
    My BOB is quite extensive and weights 65 pounds with all weapons listed above. The problem! you have to be in good enough shape to pack it. i practice, full gear and weight in mild terrain average 20 miles. Unfortunately most do not have the time or energy to train and practice.

  33. You left out the most important one of all THE .45 CALIBRE 1911 !!! The 1911 was designed by GOD and passed down onto mankind thru the teachings of his HOLLY PROPHET JOHN MOSES BROWNING!!!
    But seriously, in a poll taken by Guns and Ammo in conjunction with the people at Shooters Bible, they surveyed a random sampling of aprox. 200 readers, and asked them one very simple question: If you lived in one of the more repressive regimes and were only allowed to own one gun (assuming you were allowed at all) what would it be? The 1911 in .45 cal. won hands down as the readers favorite with over 70% of the vote, and the reasons are simple and many: the 1911 packs a lot of heavy firepower in a very controllable package, it is easy to learn to shoot, it is very accurate right out of the box and with the right mods can be turned into a tack driver, and it can be stripped and reassembled in the dark, something we had to learn how to do in the Corps.
    Gmy. Sgt. Robert “Jake” Taylor U.S.M.C. ret.

  34. This may be a stupid question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. What is the life expectancy of ammo and if you have a lot of .22 ammo can’t that take down your target, I mean it’s not like I plan on taking down a bear, I just plan on hitting where I aim.
    Forgive my ignorance.

  35. Hey Teresa, that’s actually a really good question. The life expectancy of ammo varies widely based on the conditions under which it’s stored. If you keep your .22lr ammo in an air tight box, inside a climate controlled room, there’s not telling how long it will last. If you leave it sitting in a cardboard box in the garage for 10 years, chances are it will be damaged by moisture (humidity). It will most likely still fire, but accuracy will be affected.

  36. I hope what you see in your magazine is cartridges. A bullet will not go very far without case, powder, and primer.

  37. Lets not forget the sig sauer sp2022. Nice reliable gun and you can switch out barrels. 9mm, 40s&w,357. Keeps your options open when the s#^*! hits the fan

  38. john, i understand that there are a bazillion 1911′s out there. however, IF you take the time to compare cartridge ballistics/size/weight, i think you will agree that the 45acp belongs in a historical display case! there is NO way anyone would consider it if it was ‘invented’ today – in the face of a .40S&W. shorter, lighter and VERY comparable down range performance, the .40S&W MUST be the choice. and, if you put the 1911 up against almost ANY of the popular 40′s, the firepower of the 1911 [shots per magazine] leaves MUCH to be desired. so, step into the 21st century and get yourself a MODERN semi- auto. hell. even the US gov’t figured that out 20 odd yrs ago. except they went to the 9mm – which was a mistake! i cant comment on the .44mag auto b/c i’m not familiar w/ it. peace, larry

  39. le, if you THINK the 40 is ‘small’ then it is clear that you have never studied ballistics tables!!! i suggest that you ‘wake up and smell’ the ballistics! peace, larry

  40. hmmmmm. not widespread?? i thought that the FEDs just ordered a billion or so .40 S&W. gee, i wonder why they like them so much??

  41. Dave, If your pack is only 65 lbs. how much of that is ammo.? Had to ask? My personal preference is a 9mm as when it comes to females a lot of us can build up all the hand and arm strength anyone would want but it won’t stop a 45 caliber pistol from breaking my wrist, and then what good would I be? My husband laughs at me as at 4&1/2 months pregnant I was
    taught to shoot a 12 guage pump off the outside of my right hip. Yes I’m right handed.

  42. Well, I feel sorta ‘out-gunned’ here! I only have a lil ole Sig P238 .380, with which I both carry and practice. I practice w/ FMJs and use Hornaday hollow points when I carry and for home defense.
    Am I just kidding myself when I think I have enough weapon? Sig came out with some 7 round mags, which I jumped on. With 1 round in the chamber I’m starting with 8 rounds at the onset of any confrontation, with 3 more 7 round mags on my person. P238 has a thumb controlled safety, which I prefer.
    I traded in a Glock 9mm, and got the new Sig P238 for close to nothing. I carry in a ‘Sneaky Pete’ clip-on which is very comfortable and convenient, and quick!
    I could immediately tell from reading the posts that there are some very knowledgeable gun people on this forum, so do you have any comments about my situation? (no need to tell me I shouldn’t have traded in the Glock – it was very uncomfortable in my hand!) The Sig P238 fits like a glove! I had to give up being a QB for RB because my hand was too small to effectively pass the ball.
    Thanks, Ted

  43. I was a little disappointed that you missed the Bersa line of fine compact semiautos. The Thunder 45 with 185 grain HPs is a solid stopper and a very reliable package. Many police officers have used the Bersa 380 as a backup for years and with good reason. At around 350 dollars it actually is affordable to a greater number of folks than many of these other suggestions. Feature for feature, and ease of field stripping and cleaning are tops.

  44. Michael Alexander

    Hey fellas,
    Sorry to rain on your parades but the best sidearm no matter what you are facing is still the SIG SAUER M11-A1.
    Not only is it used by the Elite forces around the world, it as reliable a pistol as the AK-47 is a reliable rifle.

    Simple elegance that will stop an elephant yet allow you to return fire from any position with minimal recoil.
    Beat that.

  45. If home defense is the purpose then the Taurus Judge was my choice. The 1st shot will be very rushed with a break in so the 1st head shot is a 410 shotgun shell #4 shot, the 2nd 410 has 3 bucks the size of a 9mm, the 3rd & 4th have 4 bucks & the 5th a jacketed 45 long. The spread gets tighter and tighter. When I get to carry outside, it will be a Bond Snake Slayer two shot over and under able to use the same ammo, 410s & 45 longs. with a few 45s in my pocket. The power is there, loud, but your hearing can take a few shots without protection time won’t allow..

  46. Howdy, Boys and Girls. I almost feel I should not even be taking up your time and space to write – cuz from all of the above ideas and opinions, I don’t know much more than I did before. I have only owned a couple semi–autos, both Colt 911’s, and enjoyed them but felt I couldn’t afford the ammo, so sold them again. MY CHOICE OF GUNS ALL SHOOT BB’S OR PELLETS, BUT, unless I use one of the new high powered RIFLES from Crosman, my “choices” are not going to shake anybody up and only get me killed a little quicker! The Bersa line of compact semi-autos sound very interesting. I’m not a real big guy, so need something that I can hold easily in my smaller hands. Grant Davis says many police officers have used the Bersa 380 as a backup for years and with good reason. I believe that is the first one I’m going to check out, as it “sounds” pretty good to me!
    No question, owning a good fitting, reliable semi-auto hand gun just plain makes good sense – and my only excuse for not looking into them sooner is that I am so involved with older BB guns, that I just haven’t taken the time. The gent, and my good friend, Oli Fischer, who is responsible for your getting this great info has done several favors for me – and when he says “it is time I take action”, I listen to him. So, if any of you good folk have a great buy on one of these fine semi-autos, let me know as I am in the market for one. AND, in the mean time, if you need your old BB gun repaired, restored, refinished, OR if you are needing a nice one to practice (cheaply) with, let me know through Oli, if you wish, and maybe we can work out some kind of trade – so I end up with a nice semi-auto, and you get your bb gun fixed, or whatever makes your boat float!
    Thanks, Hugh, in S.L.C., UT

  47. There is one thing I would ask of the writers here and that is when you specify the manufacturer and model of these firearms please include the caliber. Some of us are not walking gun encyclopedias. I own 33 pistols and revolvers and love them all. My full time carry preference is a Para Ordinance P14-45 with one in the pipe and an extra mag. With 29 rounds of +P in JHP I should get the job done. The pistol accuracy is above some of the “professional” shooters capabilities. It came from the factory with a match grade barrel and slide bushing and Trijicon night sights. I know it’s heavy, anything with 15 rounds of 230gr .45 is heavy, but it has never jammed or miss fed in several 1000’s of rounds.

  48. Kinda partial to my Beretta PX4 Storm. Nice fit and plenty of knock down punch.

  49. i know it’s not on the list.. but what do u think of the Browning Hi-Power 9mm copy’s.?

  50. Well Ladies and Gentleman, All comments noted here by interested readers are appreciated equally in my opinion. The fact remains any handgun, is better than no handgun in a life or death situation, as long as you can shoot it accurately. All the calibers listed as well as the specific handgun makes and models included in this discussion will do the job and serve you well,
    if you can hit what you are shooting at. As for me, sorry, I side with Sgt. Jake Taylor, U.S.M.C., I own, carry, and shoot a
    1911 Colt LW Commander in .45 Cal. Cocked ‘n Locked. Built in 1951, it’s almost as old as I am. My father told me it saved his life more than once, when he carried it in Korea. It may be sentimental on my part, but since inheriting this gun in 1992, it is my handgun of choice. I really do think John Browning was a mechanical genius when he designed and built the .45 Cal. ACP for the U.S. Military and civilian applications. I love shooting it. A drawback for many, it is a slim, single stacked magazine with 7 rounds max., but knowing that, makes it all the more important to insure that you hit your intended target accurately and the first time you pull the trigger. So, carry the handgun of your choice, shoot it accurately and practice, practice, practice.

  51. sold my 1911 when I thought I might move overseas
    went lookin’ for another .45 and discovered a Tanfoglio Witness, a .45 on a CZ 75 frame
    peach of a pistol, can cary it hammer down, off safe and, if I am too dumb to figure danger close, my first shot will be double action
    good price, too.

  52. I like the Bersa 380 as well. I prefer a semi auto that my wife can also shoot, with not much kick back. It is light weight for CC, ammo is fairly inexpensive and readially available. I especially like how it feels in either my right or left hand. Yes I agree with y all, a well placed shot will go far to stop anything. I know that the 380 cal, is not the preferred defense ammo, but over all it comes down to how comfortable the gun feels in your hand and how accurate you are Any and all comments are welcome. Thanks.

  53. I agree, when I first got my 1911, I carried it, just because if was a .45 1911, but eventually after the novelty wore off,common sense won out and I figured, my 15 shot browning hi power gave me more chances to miss and still be able to stay in the fight. The high power is ok, but I carried a S&W 5906 for 19 years, (before that a S&W .38 revolver for 15 years) before I retired from my PD. I guess the best gun for you is the one you are the most comfortable with, and I just ordered a 5906 recently just because I don’t seem to feel as comfortable with either my colt 1911 or my browning hi power
    as i did with my 5906, that got taken back by my PD when I retired of course. And what does not hurt is the de-cocking lever on the 5906. Having to drop the magazine then empty the chamber to de-cock a loaded gun, or you could just cowboy it and de-cock while holding the hammer back with your thumb, which is just plain stupid, is a pain, eliminated by a de-cocking lever, one quick swipe of the thumb and oila….de-cocked; safely.

  54. What about the Ruger SR series? I own an SR40C (.40 SW) with 9+1 capacity and an SR9 (9mm Luger) with 17+1 capacity. Both retail for around $425 and perform flawlessly and are accurate. The SRs are composite frame with stainless slides. Good looking, great feel, light weight, and will feed any ammo you put through them. They are very easy to field strip/clean and with unobtrusive ambidextrous safety and trigger safety you can carry them with a feeling of confidence.

  55. So many opinions on here and many are correct and many require some correction. When I was in the military as a war fighter, my sidearm was a .45cal.1911, standard armament for a tank crew and also a common round for the nifty little full auto ugly as sin grease gun, as we referred to it. It was virtually indestructible and as mentioned, shared a common caliber to our sidearm. Many years after my discharge I became a range officer at a former military range, now civilian and went through range officer training and personal defense instructor training. All this being said, many things were stressed during classroom time and brought to the forefront during range time. Things like stance, proper grip and balance, target acquisition, finger off the trigger until target was to be engaged, etc. One common thread besides the essential element of safe gun handling was ……..placement. You have to be able to control the firearm your shooting and insure placement. A properly placed .22LR is far more effective than a larger caliber where control and placement are negatively affected by both recoil and anticipation with trigger control! Granted, real life defense situations require a host of other elements that change the dynamics of an unfriendly encounter, not visited in a controlled environment. For the more advanced students we had situational tactical bays which provided simulation of common encounters and presented real life response requirements and the ability to distinguish friend from foe! I personally have shot outside my military service every caliber of handgun and most long gun calibers up to and including .50 cal. If it goes bang without incident , I’m good with it and in truth guns and calibers are personal choices as common as the variety of people who embrace them. Personal choice, expertise, control and reacquisition are in my estimation, the tools necessary for adequate personal defense.

    One other commentI noticed on here and gave me a chuckle, one that I’ve encountered many times post service at the range………….a clip is not a magazine and with the exception of a wheel gun where a speed loader can be employed, magazines are common to both pistols and rifles, while magazines are strictly for certain military based rifles like an SKS for example, which can also accommodate a magazine!

  56. Meant to state in my last sentence, While “clips” are strictly for certain military rifles like an SKS for example, which can also accommodate a magazine!

  57. Larry dont cast stones with improper facts if you look at ALL the ballistics tables you will find the old 357 beat them all so go take another look. If we really want a self protection cc for a woman or an back-up get a hammer-less wheel gun in 357 and you have the best stopping power out there and in a small easy (especially for women) no having to jack one into the chamber or looking at some indicator you know all you have to do is pull the trigger, oh yea you can shoot 38th all day for practice cheeply if ya punch your own together..

  58. I have tried a few semi-automatic handguns at the range, but as a woman with small hands, I am finding it difficult to find something to fit my hand. My fingers are shorter and so I can’t reach the trigger properly. Then, I have to overcompensate, which causes the “V” in my hand next to my thumb to get sore from the gun’s slide when it fires. I am looking for a revolver or a 9 mm that is small enough for me, and one that is powerful enough, but not with too much recoil. Now Ruger has a small 22 revolver, but many discourage me from getting a 22 for obvious reasons. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I would like to find something that I can comfortably operate accurately! Thanks!!!!

  59. did I miss something…… 1911 ???

  60. Mauk I / We must be twins?
    I have the same handguns,
    Home defense: S&W M&P 45 w night sights & ext. mag = 11 rounds “I don’t have the extended mag. yet” (nightstand bulldog gun safe).
    CCW: S&W M&P 9c w C. T. laser grips = 13 rounds at 4 o’clock inside-the waistband holster + 2 each: 17 round extra reload magazines.
    CCW if hot summer day: Kahr cm9 in front pants pocket holster or at 4 o’clock inside-the waistband holster under tee shirt = 7 rounds + extra mag. 8 rounds = 15 total.

  61. The Bersa Thunder .45 is a large caliber, equipped with dual safeties, and is both single and double action. I have carried and fired mine for over ten years with zero malfunctions and superb accuracy.

  62. The CHP uses 9mm with segmented “hollow points” and they will tear you up!

  63. And the fight goes on & on, Caliber and personnel preference of weapons, It all boils down to what weapon and caliber you can feel the most comfortable with to place the most rounds accurately into the perp to stop the threat. If done properly even a sub cal 22 will do the job if you practice and do it right!!!

  64. Damn straight Pete , a good 22 is better than cave man tools any day 22 cal has claimed more kills than any caliber I know of.

  65. The canick 55 stingray . Made in the same factory in turkey as the police and military.

  66. BOB; As far as safeties go, you’re forgetting the primary one. Whether you are holding a Glock, 1911. XP or all the others with all the bells and whistles., the first safety is between your ears. As a police officer, we transitionen from .38 special to .357 magnum, to the Beretta 9mm (when the military screwed the pooch), to the Beretta .40, to the Glock .40. Personally, I preferred the .357, since the revolver is inherently more accurate, what with less moving parts meaning less motion at the muzzle. Personally, I carry a .45 now, and have enough practice that I can dump 8 rounds in a pie plate at 25 yards. We should all realize that gun tests in all the popular gun mags are run at 15 FEET, in other words, 5 yards. In a survival situation, you may be at farther distances, and less qualified shooters may need the built-in accuracy available with some weapons. When I changed over from the Beretta .40 to my .40 Glock, out of the box I went from scores in the 80s to the high 90s. In my opinion, dollar for dollar, you can’t beat the Glock.

  67. I carry an RIA mid size 1911 ( 4.25 in. barrel} in .22 TCM. Holds 18 Rounds with one in the chamber. I have rheumatoid arthritis & I am very pleased with the pistol. It does not hurt my wrist to shoot & I feel as well armed as I would with any 9mm. Check out the .22 TCM cartridge – very impressive. It is an excellent pistol & cartridge for a woman, or for anyone with arthritis.

  68. If after you shoot a bad guy 3 to 6 times with (9mm ad your buddy pops him one time and his buddy with one (45 acp )
    then holsters it be thankful he had a old 45 on his hip and not your 9mm !!


  69. Because the Government are a bunch of Idiots, I feel any gun you can shoot well is the best defense regardless of caliber . I prefer a 357 ,For home defense you can’t beat a shotgun . Wake up some night to someone in your house and see if you can hit with precision. A 12ga pump loaded with Heavy Bird shot ,like # 2 or 4 shot will blow a hole through anything at ranges you would be firing at in your home. Outside my home I carry a Ruger SP 101 ,5 shots of 357 ,I can stop anything short of a Brown Bear.

  70. I so agree with You . Even a .22 to the head is totally effective. If that’s all you can shoot well ,then use it.

  71. I have a XDM in 9mm I love the gun, but wish it had a mechanical thumb safety .

  72. I love revolvers less to go wrong ,no worry about feeding or jams ,do you need more than 6 shots from a 357? . The Smith 27 is a beautiful gun ,I would never get rid of it. But if you prefer a Auto you cant go wrong with any that you mentioned ,you have to feel them in your hand ,one will feel right.

  73. I have lots of .22 ammo, short, long and long rifle. Most of it is from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I am sure that it will all shoot very well. It all cost me 50 cents a box. They all will shoot through my single-shot Winchester that cost seven and one-half dollars wholesale in 1949, and which retailed for about ten dollars.
    My brother got it for me wholesale in 1949 when he worked in a wholesale department store then. I am saving it , amongst a few other things, for when the shtf. I hate to think that I would have to fight other Americans, but, with the usurper and communist in the White House, anything is possible.
    Of course, it could be UN troops. Those were not UN troops at Waco and Ruby Ridge. I am 80 now.
    There are so many guns picked here that it is confusing. Would everyone pretty much agree on the .45? I will never buy another S & W, due to their caving in to the government years ago about gun policy. I could not believe that they did that, one of the few in the country that did.

  74. There’s one glaring reason that the M11-A1 did not make this list… it retails for around $1,000. That’s the same reason there aren’t many 1911s on this list as well.

  75. The Patriot Caller

    The 1911 is a great sidearm, but most of them are a bit pricey for this list. Do you have any recommendations for a value 1911 in the $500-600 range?

  76. You higher have a very good back up plan when Remington goes away -as a result of thats
    what their ULTIMATE intent is and might be DESPITE whatever the hell the FEDs have
    promised you!

  77. 9 mm SCCY (pronounced sky) made in Daytona Beach, Fla. is a steal – less money money than the above examples of Top 5 Budget Handguns.

  78. Just had to comment about the Colt Python .357 magnum. This is the make of pistol I carried in Gainesville, Fl. I shot qualifications at Eustis Law Enforcement Academy with it. When you had those 2 adjustable sights lined right, when you lined it across there wasn’t a chance of missing. I carried it while there and hated to give it back when I left. I have hunted for one like it recently and haven’t had any luck finding one.

  79. Girsan, (a Turkish company) makes an affordable 1911 .45ACP in the area of $430-$450. Solid gun, shoots smooth. Something to consider if price is at issue. I’m Satisfied with mine.

  80. Don’t underestimate Taurus for autos on a budget. The Millenium Pro comes in 9mm, .40 & .45 for under $400!!

  81. my choice of an all around side arm has got to be a 40 its easy to stay on target I carried a 45 in service an d yes it packs big punch, But your say shoot a bad guy 3/4 times yeah right once in the head is one to many! as to a 9 same deal. DEAD is DEAD 22 sledgehammer all the same have a good.

  82. I’ll stay with .45 ACP and 9 MM NATO, as those will be the most common calibers available when the SHTF, either man made or natural disasters. The US Military would still be using the .45 ACP if it didn’t have to conform to NATO Specs. and the “hole” puncher 9 MM (115 GR FMJ) .

  83. Great column! I am in the minority with too many guns, and a few “favorites”. My most accurate is one not mentioned here: my Russian Makarov 9mm(short 14), and my Makarov .380. Sadly I gave the latter to my son, but gladly it is his favorite. My 9mm is light, compact, very accurate. not much recoil, never misfired, jammed. Power: probably inadequate but with accuracy, gains a few points. Mine was inexpensive, Who wants a “Russian gun”? Well, the Cheks can do it, so can others. As many have stated, accuracy is the most predominant goal. My other two favorites are Kahr 9mm and Kahr .380. I carry the latter for weight, size, and accuracy. Yes, I own a Blackhawk .44, 1911 .45 (like my Taurus .45 better), and 35 others. My 12G Mossberg
    shotgun is my “home remedy”. My S&W .357 revolver is another great CCW, only 5 rounds, but no feeding
    problems. Just my little world. Enjoy shooting, and dreaming.

  84. There are so many comments on this I didn’t read them all. But as I went through them I didn’t notice anyone discussing My Handgun which my Husband had the foresight to purchase for Me. It’s the Walther 380. I find this weapon to be just right for Me seeing that I’m a Smaller than average Woman–soaking wet I weigh in at 102lbs. and I’m 5 feet tall in My boots. The gun is lightweight and easy to carry unnoticed. The “kick” it has is easy for me to take and it’s accurate at about 20 yards which makes it just right for personal protection. On top of this is has a good price to it and the ammo is easier for me to find compared to his 9mm and 44 revolver. I believe I couldn’t find a better fit…

    but the ones I read and browsed over

  85. Please people, read the title of the article. “Bang for your buck” The article is about the semi-autos that are affordable!

  86. One of my guns is a Ruger SR9 and I have had problems feeding the Hornady Critical Defense/Zombie Killer rounds with the urethane tip. The feedramp is a bit steep and the tip drags so that the base of the cartridge raises. This is my round of choice in my LCP and my XDm 45 – waqs slightly disappointed I needed to move away from it for the SR9

  87. Do not agree although .40 cal is a fine round I perfer the .45ACP , very accurate & easy to handle especially in the Glock 21 13 rounds plus 1! The .40 cal has more recoil & it’s nothing but a sawed off 10MM. But to each his own, I do respect your choice!

  88. Mikeymouth, if your looking for a .357 mag. I would strongly suggest the Ruger GP-100 Match Champion! This is a quality competition revolver that is practically indestructable, accurate, good double action & single action pulls & very reliable! I have the 4.2 inch model. Ruger also makes this model in 3 inch & 6 inch models. I fired the Colt Python .357 magnum & it is also a great weapon! But I think you would get more for your buck with the Ruger GP-100! At least go to a gun shop & give it a good examination!

  89. people, please this isn’t a forum for folks with the biggest guns or egos,it is about buget handguns.remember ,a gun is only a
    tool. so in effect you are the weapon…that is if you train /practice skill means your gun can be taken from you
    and truned on you. I say this no to be so kind of hardass but because we are all in this together
    train well,shoot straight,and god bless

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