What's the Best Handgun I Could Buy for Under $120?
What's the Best Handgun I Could Buy for Under $120?
We live in interesting times. It's an era where there's been a slowdown of the economy thanks to a global pandemic, but, at the same time, there's been an explosion in people panic buying everything from ammunition to toilet paper. It's become obvious that being prepared for any situation is no longer something relegated to the realm of paranoia — it's just sensible.
Part of that preparedness for many people involves the purchase of a firearm. The number of new gun owners is currently soaring, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Whether they’re looking to purchase a firearm in order to protect their family or their precious toilet paper, gun ownership just makes more sense to more people lately.
But not everyone is made of money. We can't all just go out and buy that tricked out operator gear, and we don't have access to a firearms sommelier like John Wick. Because of that, you want to find the best deal on a firearm that you possibly can. And while setting a budget is absolutely a good place to start, it’s important to be realistic.
You've probably heard someone set an unrealistic gun budget before — maybe they asked if they could get a gun for $50. We've all drastically underestimated the cost of something at one point or another, so there's no judgment here. But it is important to be pragmatic about pricing.
Bad News/Good News
First, the bad news: You aren't usually going to find a brand-new handgun for under $120.
The cheapest new guns are almost always going to be more than $120. That doesn't mean the title of this blog post is clickbait, though, because the good news is there are some options that will fit that price range. That's especially true if you're willing to ease up on that price point by a few dollars and/or loosen your standards for "new" guns.
Just because you can't get a new gun for under $120 doesn't mean you can't buy a good used (aka "new to you") firearm for that price range. You can also get an actual new one for near that price range — you just have to know where to look and what to watch for.
Also, although the title of this article refers to handguns generally, most people tend to think of a modern polymer-style striker fired semi-automatic pistol when entering the market. If you open up your range to include all handguns, you'll greatly increase your chances — especially if you look at revolvers.
Quite a few gun enthusiasts within the industry will tell you that you should be carrying a revolver as your everyday carry (EDC) gun to begin with — if not as your main EDC, then at least as a backup. Just because modern guns are the big sellers doesn't take away from the long and storied history of the revolver. Revolvers are proven guns that perform well in a lot of conditions, so don't think of a revolver as a "lesser" gun just because you wanted a Glock. It's better to have a gun than no gun.
There are a few models you can choose from for around $120.
The Heritage Rough Rider
The Heritage Rough Rider revolver is a six-shot western style revolver chambered in .22LR. It's a single-action revolver, so the hammer must be manually cocked. If that's a drawback to you, just remember this thing can be found for under $150 brand new. The MSRP is actually over $200, but stores routinely sell them for $145 or less during promotions. Regardless, it has a price point very near $120, and if you find one used, you might even be able to get it for less.
The Ruger Wrangler
The Ruger Wrangler is another .22LR revolver, but this one has less of a Wild West feel to it. It has a shorter barrel and is Cerakoted for durability. Plus, the MSRP on the Wrangler is actually considerably lower than the Rough Rider, so finding it at the $120 price point new is not impossible, and you can easily find it from $150-$180. If you're really wanting a gun right now, a few dollars more might not be that much of a problem.
Derringers are small guns with typically one or two shots that fit in the palm of your hand and are easily concealed elsewhere. You know — the kind that ladies of the oldest profession carry in western movies.
Now, before someone gets all up in arms about how Derringers aren't a good gun because of their size or because they only hold two shots, keep in mind that Osama bin Laden was taken out with only two shots. Plus, as we've already gone over, it’s better to have some gun than no gun.
The Cobra Enterprises Derringer Big Bore
The Cobra Enterprises Big Bore is a two-shot Derringer pistol made in the U.S.A. Manufactured in Utah, it's a capable derringer chambered in .380, .38 and even 9mm. Best of all, you can find it retailing for around $125.
We mentioned earlier that you're not going to find modern guns at the $120 price point, and that's still very true. But there are caveats to this truth. Some lesser-known brands and manufacturers are purposely trying to make guns for lower price points to serve a niche in the market. Glock’s and Smith & Wesson’s these are not, but in this particular price range, these are certainly worthy of consideration.
The Hi-Point C9
You knew it had to be here. It's the single cheapest modern polymer style gun on the market. It's been derided for that cheapness, even on this website. There are just as many people who swear by them as people who hate them, though, so keep that in mind. The Hi-Point C9 is a 9mm with an eight-round standard magazine with an MSRP below $200. If you're trying to find a modern gun for $120, the C9 is one of your best chances at coming close.
The Cobra Freedom .380
The derringer isn't the only thing Cobra has to offer. The Freedom Series .380 is a metal-alloy-framed semi-automatic pistol chambered in .380 ACP. It has a five-round magazine and a thumb safety, yet it's still a compact concealable pistol. But more importantly, it actually retails for $127 brand new.
Buying Handguns Used
This might be your best option for getting something closer to what you really want. Most guns have a standard manufacturer suggested retail price but sell for less. With the proper negotiation skills, you might be able to talk someone down to your $120 price point. If a gun retails in the low-to-mid $200 range (or even low $300 range), you may be able to negotiate the price down to at least close to your desired price point if you're buying them used.
To find great deals, go to gun stores and pawn shops, but also visit gun shows and look at yard sales. There's a common joke in the gun community that one of our biggest fears is that when we die, our family will sell our guns for what we told them we paid for them. It’s a scary thought if you’re the one selling, sure, but it can be a great find if you're the one buying.
No one is suggesting you try and rip someone off of course, but if someone has a Wilson Combat Sig Sauer P320 sitting there for $200 because they thought it was $500 brand new, have at it.
The secondhand market can be a great place to score a deal on a gun. A lot of people buy a gun and it ends up sitting in a safe and hardly being used. If you can get one like that, you're essentially buying a brand-new firearm. The drawback is that you're going to have to sift through a lot of mistreated guns and low-end junk that've suffered thousands of rounds and hours of abuse before you find the good ones. If you can get a great deal, though, it might be worth the work.
If you're looking to buy a gun, your best bet is to save your money until you can afford to buy the firearm you really want. The big-name guns like Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer and others are big names for a reason and often worth the money you pay for them. But if you really feel like you need something right now and can't wait, the guns mentioned above are where you should start looking.