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guns, lust, money, quality, snubbies

Cheap Guns

A number of bloggers have set upon the meme regarding cheap firearms.  Some involving getting started when young and not having the funds, others of an economy bent.
The first gun I thought about purchasing (in 1973) was a 4″ Rohm (RG) .38 revolver.  Some guy at work was trying to sell it.  $65?  I knew nothing of revolvers and a more-gun-educated friend rapidly steered me away from doing so.  It seemed they were cheaply manufactured in Germany during the 60’s, largely of pot metal.  The flash gap between the front of the cylinder and rear of the barrel was not only not parallel, but one could throw an elephant through it, and his feet wouldn’t touch the sides!  Glad I didn’t buy it. 

I bought my first gun, in the Spring 1974.  A Smith & Wesson Model 39-2, 9 mm. from a reserve university cop buddy of my Dad’s, for $125.00.  With two magazines.
I purchased it largely because of it’s look, and more BB’s than a six-shooter.  Knowing what I know today, I probably should have saved-up another $100 and bought a 1911.  This particular Smith shot okay, but had an alloy frame.  Some folks think all steel is more durable.
Over my firearm purchasing career, most of the guns I bought were based on price and gun lust.  Sometimes, just because I’d a few extra dollars (a not very-common occurrence).
And I always lusted after firearms I had little or no chance of obtaining.  Colt Python.  (There’s a parallel to women here, but that’s for another post.) 
I traded the 39-2 for a Smith 59 (with cash-thanks again, Dave!), because it was more BB’s, and, I thought, the same gun.  WRONG.  While similar and of similar materials, the action was worse, and I couldn’t hit much with it.  A clunky ammo-burner.
Later acquired was a S&W Model 49 revolver, because it was $100 cheaper than the stainless model 60 Smith snubbie.  Again, a wrong choice.  Mostly because blued guns dissolve instantly upon contact with my perspiration.
I bought a Keltec 9mm, because I liked my little Keltec .32.  It was well worn and didn’t shoot well at all.  A waste of money.
What did I learn from all this?
For me, in the gun world, price is important.  Generally speaking, one gets what one pays for.
Back in the 70’s, a Rohm at any price was worthless.  Still is. 
A Smith 39-2 was ‘okay’.  Much depends on how hard one intends to use it.  I suppose the Keltec 9 was ‘okay’, if the target was not much farther than arm’s length.
Some would say (and have-I’ve seen them on gun forums) ‘any gun is better than no gun.’  A Rohm, for instance.  Perhaps.
But, do I want to count my life on it?
I always believed a Smith revolver was like a Ford or Chevy; a Colt revolver – a Cadillac (trading on the name, but good).  A Ruger, like an old work truck – not stylish, but works forever.
That was in the 70’s.  Today factor in Sig, Kimber, Springfield Armory, Glock and a hundred others.
You get what you pay for – but, know your subject! – Guffaw


About guffaw1952

I'm a child of the 50's. libertarian, now medically-retired. I've been a certified firearms trainer, a private investigator, and worked for a major credit card company for almost 22 years. I am a proud NRA Life Member. I am a limited-government, free-market capitalist, who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law.


13 thoughts on “Cheap Guns

  1. True enough… and many of us would be better off buying one good gun and learning to use it properly. Train hard, fight easier.One cannot buy skill and as Tam advises:Better a pointed stick and a furious anger than a death ray and the soul of a rabbit.

    Posted by Tango Juliet | December 27, 2011, 8:46 am
  2. @Tango Juliet – Tam (as always) is brilliant. Thanks for referring to her in my blog.

    Posted by Guffaw in AZ | December 27, 2011, 8:50 am
  3. Buying cheap guns is kinda like drinking cheap booze: You think they're ok until you've had a chance to try the good stuff, and once you do that, the cheap stuff seems, well, cheap. My education on cheap guns was a Sccy CPX-1, a Kel-Tec PF9 clone. At the time I bought it, my choices in a compact 9mm were it and the PF9. Now there's Taurus, Ruger, Kimber and Sig playing in that market. On the other hand, there's my CZ-82, bought for the same price as the Sccy. Sometimes cheap ain't cheap, it's inexpensive…

    Posted by ExurbanKevin | December 27, 2011, 9:19 am
  4. Tam needs no referrals. She seems to manage quite well on her own but still, I like to do it. There's no one quite like Tam. 🙂

    Posted by Tango Juliet | December 27, 2011, 10:33 am
  5. As noted above by ExurbanKevin, there's a BIG difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive". Many of us have discovered that bit o' wisdom through bitter experience.

    Posted by Rev. Paul | December 27, 2011, 10:38 am
  6. I own inexpensive guns. I own a Hi-Point and a RIA .45. Not ashamed of it, and they fire and hit quite well. The Hi Point was my first pistol. And as inexpensive as they are, at that point in my life I still had to put it on lay away. And it's way way better than a pointy stick.

    Posted by TinCan Assassin | December 27, 2011, 12:21 pm
  7. @ExurbanKevin – Excellent analogy and comment!@Tango Juliet – Agreed.@Rev. Paul – Guess that's how we learn. (well, some of us)@TinCan Assassin – Hey, if they do what they're designed to do, then who cares about pedigree?

    Posted by Guffaw in AZ | December 27, 2011, 1:40 pm
  8. Ummm, My Russian beauty Makarov is probably my favorite 'cheap' gun and daily carry. I bought it right, it goes bang everytime, accuracy depends solely on me. Now my S&W 28 while not neccessaraly a 'cheap gun' as it's worth much more than I paid for it, is my pride and joy, reliablity of a revolver and somehow it just seems to know just where to put the bullet! 😉 Now all that said, my first firearm purchase (from a cowroker needing cash) was a $30 Excam import, Tanfoglio made TA-22 single action .22 pistola. It went bang, sometimes, as firing pin worn out, and cylinder slap is ,at best, scary. Parts are available, but I have regulated it to 'wall hanger' duty. As exhurbanKevin pointed out, if I was budget shopping, I'd rather go Milsurp/police trade-in (read used, but tried and true) than New-Entry Level (read cheap/lower quality-usually. My $.02

    Posted by Midwest Patriot | December 28, 2011, 8:21 am
  9. @Midwest Patriot – Interesting. Good observations re: Milsurp/police trade in…

    Posted by Guffaw in AZ | December 28, 2011, 8:24 am
  10. I'm as American as the next guy, but one has to admit the Commie Bloc gunmakers built some decent guns that a fella can pick-up relatively cheap. I've had my hands on Makarovs, PA 64, Tokarov, Mosin-Nagants, TOZ, CZs, and countless others, Each did it's job, even after all these years. My excuse is that I'm slowly disarming the other guy 😉

    Posted by Midwest Patriot | December 29, 2011, 4:17 pm
  11. @Midwest Patriot – I never had the urge for comblock ordinance. Friends did give me a fine MAK-90 once, though.

    Posted by Guffaw in AZ | December 29, 2011, 7:44 pm
  12. I have a little bit of everything in my collection I own Taurus's and Rugers, Marlin's and Smith's, and CZ's. Early on I bought an H&K off a guy who needed to sell it before getting married because she didn't like guns(we can discuss the wisdom of that some other time). I later sold it and bought two Firestorm Pistols with the proceeds. That little Firestorm .380 is not as nice around the edges as a Sig P230…but it goes bang every time I pull the trigger.The only time I have gone cheap/inexpensive and regretted it was when I bought a Charles Daly 1911. I was just never very pleased with that firearm. Let it go for 60% of what I paid for it, but I was very clear with the guy on what he was getting…so my conscience was clear.

    Posted by greg | December 31, 2011, 9:19 am
  13. Thanks, Greg!

    Posted by Guffaw in AZ | December 31, 2011, 12:28 pm

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