BornLib's Blog

Life, Liberty, and the Firearms that protect them both

Contrasting viewpoints on cheap guns

with 6 comments

I was going through the archives of some of my favorite gunbloggers, and was reading through one post in which Weer’d World was describing his experience with Cobra’s Patriot pistols, and came across this comment savaging the very notion of buying a cheap gun and a number of other comments supporting his stance.

These reminded me of an article written by Massad Ayoob for Backwoods Home Magazine titled “Cheap Guns Are Good Enough.”

I personally side with Capt. Ayoob, and for reasons that go beyond those outlined in his article.  The conversation over at Weer’d’s is over a year old, so I’ll be posting my thoughts here instead.

If you are buying something to DEFEND YOUR LIFE AND THE LIFE OF YOUR FAMILY and you skimp on what you spend, except as an interim measure until you get a decent defensive arm, THOMAS WILL STILL THINK YOU AN IDIOT. Does your friend go out to eat? Go to a movie once in a while? Have broadband internet and a cellular phone? None of those things might save his life some day.

Two points:

There is a difference between the capacity of a tool to save one’s life and the capacity of a tool to defend one’s life.  A cell phone isn’t going to help you if a strung out crack-head is trying to stab you with a screwdriver and a gun isn’t going to help you if you’re home alone when you fall down your basement stairs.

You can be person who never eats out, goes to see a movie, has cable, has the internet (or a computer), and still have no money.

People who do such things should re-evaluate their priorities. When you go up against a criminal, as often as not, it isn’t their first time. It will likely be your first defensive arms usage. Not putting as many points in your favor ahead of time is mind boggling.

There are a number of things you can do that put points in your favor ahead of time that matter more than the price of your gun.  Quality hollow-point ammunition and handgun training are the two that spring to mind, and neither of these is free.  Who is better off: the untrained man using ball ammo in a Sig, or a trained man using Speer Gold Dot JHPs in a Hi-Point?

ANYBODY can afford a better gun if they so choose to.

Tell that to my coworker who had to borrow $20 from me for a week because she didn’t have enough money to fill her gas tank.  Tell that to my other coworker who I shared my lunch with because he had to spend his food budget getting his car fixed so he could come to work.  Tell that to the single young mother at the grocery store who’s mother has to drive her to work because neither of them has enough money to replace the tires that her piece of garbage ex-boyfriend slashed on the young lady’s car.  Tell that to my neighbor who has been unemployed for 6 months.  Tell that to the old woman with no savings living off social security.

If you can scrape $300 together, you can scrape $400 together with just a little more effort. For $400 you can easily get a used Glock or a brand new RIA 1911, both decent guns IMHO.

Which is going to be more valuable to a guy delivering pizza: a $400 gun at home, or a concealed handgun license and a $300 gun on his hip?

All too often we forget that the price of the gun does not reflect the total cost of ownership.  Think about all the things you found out you needed once you had your gun.  A good holster (here’s what happens with a bad one) will run you at least $40.  If you aren’t using a lightweight pocket gun, you’ll want another $30 at least for a good belt.  A box of even the cheapest 9mm JHP will cost you $20.  In Ohio getting a concealed handgun license will run you at least another $150.  So with minimal equipment, minimal training and almost no range time, you’re looking at as much as $240 on top of the cost of the handgun.

For around $300, you can get a good used Kel-Tec or a new LCP. I am not paying 3 Bennies for a POS with a trigger Samson couldn’t pull.

This is a point worth keeping in mind.  At most price points there are higher quality options.  Around the $300 price point, Kel-Tec, Bersa, and Taurus spring to mind, or even the much maligned S&W Sigma.  Now you’ll notice $300 is being talked about a lot, because that’s what Cobra is asking.  Not everyone can scrape together $300 quickly, or even slowly for that matter.  If all someone can manage for a pistol is $150, at that price point, Hi-Point is the higher quality option for a handgun.

And for home defense? I’ve seen Mossberg 500s selling as low as $150. That beats a Hi-Point all to hell…

Home defense is all well and good, but I’m not home all the time. Going back to my guy delivering pizza, that (most likely unloaded by law) shotgun in his back seat or trunk isn’t going to be worth squat once he’s out of his car where someone can jump him. A Hi-Point here beats a Mossberg all to hell.

Written by BornLib

May 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Here Here, Good Show and Good Form Jolly Ole Chap!!!!

    Figured you deserved bit of Brit styled approval for that rant.

    I’m with you on this issue.

    The people arguing about buying a used gun for just a little more miss one important factor — many people wouldn’t know what to look for in a used gun to see if it is in good condition.
    Buying a $400 used Glock or RIA doesn’t help if the firing pin breaks after 1 shot.

    I would rather people buy a decent gun at a price they can afford and buy ammunition for practice

    I own a Taurus Millennium Pro PT 145 — bought it for a whopping $300!! But I’ve put probably close to five hundred rounds of ammo through it.
    Would I be more accurate if I had bought a $800 and a single box of ammo?

    Of course not.

    Well said Bornlib

    Bob S.

    May 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

  2. Hey thanks for digging up this old post.

    Also my buddy who carries a hi-point carries a USED one I think he dropped $90 for, and that was probably an amount he had to save up for, or had to go without for a bit.

    I certainly would prefer that somebody go with a reputable gun over the cheapest gun, but your point is valid that that just isn’t the case.

    Still one point to contest, and I do it as somebody who has never shot a hi-point, or a Cobra Patriot, but I would certainly say somebody with minimal training (and hopefully no fatally bad habits like point-shooting, or not knowing how to make a sight picture….anybody running any gun wrong will be beaten by anybody running any other gun right) and ball ammo WILL be better off than the trained guy with the Cobra or the Hi-point with good ammo and training if the the only training the trained shooter is using is clearing jams.

    I certainly think there is plenty of room in the gunnie circle for Zamak and cheapo polymer guns. We just need to be careful when we do use those guns.

    Weer'd Beard

    May 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    • I’m rather tempted to get a Hi-Point just so, in my own mind if not anyone else’s, I can find out what they are really like.


      May 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      • That was why I bought a Jennings J-22. And tho its horrendously unreliable and a bitch to properly clean, its surprisingly accurate fun to shoot, and a neat little gun to teach a new shooter how to handle a pocket pistol before they get to something bigger.

        Also as a “Saturday Night Special” its a gun the people of Mass don’t want me to have, so I had to have it!

        Weer'd Beard

        May 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      • My first TWO handguns were Hi-Point and I still have my .380. I’ve had it over 10 years and still works great. I’ve moved up to better but still like the gun. (Second one went to a buddy who wanted to carry. He has since moved up as well but still has the Hi-point.

        Incidentally, my class is $100, but of course, you then pay the $67, to the Sheriff, for the license.


        May 10, 2011 at 12:49 am

  3. […] last time, I don’t have a firm opinion in this debate, and I am still experimenting with the relevant […]

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