Pistol buying when cost is a key consideration

As a CHL instructor, I get to see a number of shooters qualify at the range with a variety of handguns.  First off, any gun can malfunction or even have a “lemon” come off the assembly line.  Most pistol malfunctions come from preventable causes such as lack of cleaning/lubrication, poor quality ammunition, or poor quality after-market magazines.  However, I will say that I do see trends emerge as far as which guns are more likely to experience reliability issues for people  at the range qualification.  Observe a line of shooters for a while and you’ll come to anticipate who is going to experience problems with their pistol.

I won’t name any product names here because no matter what I’d put out there, some one will have had a positive experience with that particular make and model and think I’m just a fan of some other specific brand.  The truth of the matter is that there are many manufacturers of quality firearms and perhaps as many manufacturers of poor quality guns as well.  When a firearm is so much less expensive than the others, consider the possibility that quality control and materials were sacrificed to achieve a desired price point in the marketplace.  Some guns out there have been tested and have parts with mean time between failures that are measured only in the hundreds of rounds. That’s unacceptable in my book.

I realize that times are tough and not everyone can go out and sink $500 or $1000 or more into a pistol.  But deciding that you want to protect your life and family with a gun and then picking one based primarily on price may be a costly mistake.  If price range is a key factor in your decision making, consider purchasing a used gun made by a well known manufacture.  We all know that buying a one or two year old car from a reputable manufacturer can be a great deal when compared to a new model.  The same can certainly be true with firearms.

Often times police departments will change over to a new make and model and trade in all of their old inventory.   Most departments test pistols before issuing them to officers so the reliability and safety were most likely factors in a department picking a particular make and model in the first place.  These trade-ins can often be obtained for a fraction of the retail price of the same model bought new.  A scratch or two and some holster wear are common but those things are cosmetic and aren’t going to adversely affect function.   And if you carry your pistol with you and take it in and out of a holster daily, you’re going to end up with some wear and tear on that new pistol, too.

Just some food for thought that a used gun can be a bargain and a brand new gun that is inexpensive isn’t always a good value.  It has to be safe and utterly reliable.

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