Bargain Hunting: Five Great Guns for the Holidays

So you’re looking maybe to stuff a gun-lover’s stocking, but are on a budget?  Well here’s a handful of some of our most popular bargains to-date.  Whether you’ve got a few hundred bucks to spend or just a single benjamin, these guns will put a smile on any face.  Any of these make great last-minute gift ideas, and nothing says “I love you” quite like a gun, whether it be handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

Taurus PT92 family, $400-500

Beretta supplied Taurus with equipment to produce 92-series pistols for their military and police contracts in South America, and over time, Taurus bought the facility and now with the patents lapsed on the 92, are making their own with Beretta facilities.

“They are different than Beretta 92s, and every change is an improvement.  First up is the safety.  Beretta’s 92 uses a slide-mounted safety, and up is hot.  That’s not popular for a bunch of reasons, cough-the 1911 nailed it-cough, and so the smiths at Taurus fixed that up right, by frame-mounting it.  It’s also a 3-way safety, on, off, and decocker, which is just tops.

“The magazine release is a little larger and easier to reach, and the grips (fractionally) smaller.  But the biggest improvement is the magazine capacity, up two from 15 to make the pistol competitive with other, more recent service pistols, like its main competitor at the time, the Glock 17.  Taurus also offers 20-round factory 9mm magazines.”

Rock Island Armory 1911s, $400

“They offer many models in an impressive array of finishes and sizes, from parkerized to polished nickel, from government to commander to officer‘s, in .45 ACP, 9mm, and .38 super, in single-stack and high-capacity double-stack frames.  They come with understated (tiny) GI sights, Novak sights, and at the high-end, fiber-optic front and matte adjustable rear sights machined into the slide.

“The cheaper guns may not have the sexiest grips and the smoothest parkerizing, but where RIA excels is build quality.  They’re made by Armscor, the same company that makes 1911 parts and guns for Auto-Ordnance, STI, and Charles Daly.  There are few companies that match the fit of Armscor, finish aside.  And while Armscor is a Filipino company, Rock Island Armory is situated square in Nevada.  Think about it like this: the money they save passes on to you, and that money gets spent on American bullets.  Everybody wins.

“One of the things that constantly impresses people about Rock Island Armory’s 1911s is their track record of reliability, particularly when it comes to eating cartridges and spitting them out.  Not original to the Colt GI model, RIAs guns have enlarged ejection ports that are also flared to rock the cases predictably aside.  They also feed superbly with just about any magazine and bullet combination you can put together; many inexpensive 1911s don’t like the hollowpoints.”

Sarsilmaz Automatic and Pump-Action Shotguns, $200-350

“An acronym of Sarsilmaz and Semi-Automatic, these lightweight 12-gauge automatic shotguns are imported to the US by EAA/USSG, and sell for an amazing price.

“Starting at $300, you can get a 5+1 shotgun with a chrome-lined 26-inch or 28-inch barrel, Turkish walnut stock, machined bolt and carrier, that is gas-operated, (and has an adjustable piston for light and heavy loads) and weighs just 6.1lbs.  A lot of that comes from the machined aluminum receiver, and so they also balance well and point easily.  They accept cartridges up to three inches long, and well, watch for all the features:

“And as stated, they also make some pretty nice, even tactical pump shotguns.  If that’s your thing, then even more good news: SARPA (SAR Pump Action) shotties start at just over $200.

“Sarsilmaz is a military armory whose products are in service all around the world, and have been tested in combat; they export their small arms to over 60 different countries, and even though these shotguns are for sport and self-defense, are as dependable as any other top-shelf auto shotguns; they just cost much, much less.”

Surplus 9x18mm Makarov Pistols, $200-300

“There are many Makarovs out there, Russian 9x18mm blowback pistols.  They’re military surplus, they’re Soviet-era, and they’re sweeet.  There are many Makarov variants out there, and even some present-day, currently-made Makarovs, too (Baikal 442).  They’re inexpensive, reliable, and fun.  People are catching on to this bargain, actually.  It used to be people would pay you to take these little guns off their hands, but word’s spreading and they actually want money for them.  That’s OK, you’re still getting a lot of pistol with a Makarov.

“Makarov pistols are small.  They’re firmly in the compact category, although they’re not so small they suck to shoot.  It helps that they’re mostly all-steel, although the Hungarian FEG is a lightweight alloy-framed Makarov (and some people don’t like shooting it due to its recoil).  They’re great for concealed-carry, and if you’re looking for something inexpensive and easy to hide, there’s almost nothing better than these slender blow-back pistols.

“If you’re a new shooter their simple double/single-action triggers are smooth, light, and easy to use.  Magazines, holsters, and other accessories are plentiful.  Because they’re blowback-operated and have fixed barrels, they’re supremely accurate, on account of the barrel being fixed to the gun’s frame.

“And that pretty much goes for all of the Makarov variants and clones, too.  Whether you’re getting a Polish P64, a Hungarian PA-63, a CZ-82, or any other Walther PPK-inspired Soviet pistol, (or Chinese, with the case of Norinco) you’re not going to spend too much and you’re going to get a pistol in a self-defense-worthy caliber.”

Mosin-Nagant Surplus Rifles, $100

“Not all Mosin Nagants sell for $100 or less.  You might pay extra for a hand-selected rifle, one that’s been inspected by the seller and deemed to be above-average in quality.  You’ll definitely pay extra for a Finnish- or Czechoslovakian-made Nagant.  You can find complete Mosin Nagant sniper rifles, with the scope and everything, starting at around $400.  But the garden-variety M91/30s sell for about $100.  Which is awesome.

“The ammo’s not much more expensive.  You can get it for about the same price as 7.62x39mm; 7.62x54mm sells for less than $.20/round if you buy surplus in bulk, and you can get quality newly-manufactured ammo for about the same price as .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO, or let’s say $.5-.60 a cartridge.  So you’ve got a pretty wide variety of ammunition options.

“With a little effort, you too can shame shooters who’ve dropped a thousand or more on their rifle.  Not just because the Mosin Nagant is a great bargain and thoroughly dependable rifle that might need a little love, but because with all your leftover stacks of cash you can afford to buy tons of ammo to practice with.”

We hope this helps you with any last-minute shopping you may have to do, or just whets your appetite for a new firearm.  And if you were thinking about something else, pipe up, and let everyone know what other great bargains are out there right now.