Friday, April 17, 2015

Firearms Friday: Inexpensive Alternatives

Anyone familiar at all with firearms knows how expensive this hobby can be. I have been at the store and seen some of the astronomical totals that people have spent on firearms. It doesn’t matter who you are, you always get that feeling of ‘if I only had the money’. Barring some sort of lottery windfall, that isn’t going to happen for most of us. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting options out there that are considerably less while retaining a decent level of quality.

While last week I wrote about some of the interesting firearms that I have come across at the gun shop (Tanner's Sports Center), this post will focus on the budget firearms. These are the ones that are affordable even if you bought them new. Of course, if you buy a used firearm you can get a lot more for your money and expands the budget minded options considerably. While I may write about the used market in a later post, today I am going to focus on the new models (which you can also find used to save even more).

While cheap firearms are not something that are usually well received, inexpensive ones are and the CPX-1 falls in the latter (Hi Point would be a good example of the former). With a MSRP of $334 and unfired used examples on the market for below $200, this is a great firearm for the budget minded. Having come across these in the local shops on numerous occasions, the quality was rather surprising even if the trigger is far from average. Overall reliability has been good with little wear to be found on many of the more heavily used examples that I have come across. And you can’t really argue with a lifetime warranty which follows the firearm. This minimal investment is definitely worth picking up especially if you find one in the used case.

Smith & Wesson Sigma / SD9 / SD9VE
Shortly after Smith & Wesson introduced the Sigma, they were sued by Glock for infringing upon their patent. While there have been a variety of similar accusations made over the years between various manufacturers, few have been successful. That was not the case in this instant as Glock won and now Smith & Wesson has to pay royalties for every Sigma / SD9 / SD9VE they sell. When you handle one of these Smith & Wesson introductory models you realize why they lost in court. However, while there are numerous similarities that this line has with their Glock counterparts there are a couple of glaring differences namely in the trigger and the price. While a Generation for Glock regularly sells for around $550, the Sigma can easily be found for right around $300. 

Zastava CZ999
I previously mentioned this firearm as a Sig Sauer P226 clone. While no one can deny the quality produced by Sig, not everyone can afford the price tag associated with the name. However, for those interested in Sig’s flagship pistol but don’t have the means to spend $700, the CZ999 is a decent alternative which can easily be found for $300. While you may not get the same high quality and finish (machining marks are notable on the inside of the slide) the firearm is well constructed and reliable. Not a bad alternative for half the price.

1911 Alternatives
For those who want to practice more often without spending the money on thousands of rounds of 45 ACP, the 1911-22 has proven to be a great alternative. With rising ammunition prices in recent years, the 22LR variant has grown in popularity. Besides being a heck of a lot of fun to shoot, the practical training aspect cannot be overstated. Of course, it helps that previous reliability issues have been addressed and they are now a much more effective training aid. Current models made by Walther / Colt, GSG / Sig Sauer, Chiappa, etc. are pretty much on par with one another and can easily be found for under $300 new and under $200 used.   

Cobra Derringer
While there is a practical purpose (and has been for over a century) for a derringer these tiny firearms are falling further and further out of favor as semiautomatic firearms get smaller and smaller. However, Cobra is making a half decent effort on the old design offering small bore models for just north of $100. At that price, even given the questionable fitting of the firearms, they are worth picking up for the heck of it. Of course, if you want the same size and better quality I would consider either the North American Arms mini revolvers (22LR and 22 Magnum) or the Double Tap derringers (9mm and 45 ACP) both of which can be found brand new for around $200.

While you’re not going to win any competitions with the aforementioned options (although Jerry Miculek could probably win with just about anything), they are decent options for those of us without the means to buy the top of the line. And, honestly, there are a number of high end firearms that aren’t really that much better than some of the lower cost alternatives. If you take your time and consider the options that are available (which go far beyond those mentioned above), you can find something that works for you so that you can both enjoy the shooting sports and, if need be, protect yourself and your family.