Home Defense Guns – Three Weapon Ideas On A Budget

By Tom McHale
Tom looks at budget home defense guns including Shots Guns, Police Trades and 22LR Rifles as options.

With a little work, you can find good home defensive guns for $300 or so.
With a little work, you can find good home defensive guns for $300 or so.
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- If you listen to White House Press Secretaries, you’ll keep hearing things like “unemployment is at the lowest rate in 43 million years…” and other such nonsense.

Wow! If that were actually true, then right now, at this moment, we wouldn’t have more American’s unemployed and underemployed than in the history of ever, right?

Well, you know as well as I do how skilled politicians are at manipulating numbers.

Enough about that. Why do I mention unemployment in an article about home defense guns ?

When times are tough, and places like Turkmenistan have more vibrant economic growth than we do, people have to stretch a dollar.

When it comes to life and death issues like home defense, it’s easy to say things like “It’s your life! It’s worth spending the extra money for the very best!”

That sounds great on paper, but if your checking account doesn’t agree, then you have to get a little more creative when choosing a home-defense weapon. You may even have to make some deliberate trade-offs, but we’ll discuss those as we get to them.

Here are three home defense gun ideas for your consideration. Are they all perfect? No. Are they fail-safe T-Rex stoppers? Not necessarily. Will they get the job done, provided you learn, practice, and train? Yup. The best part is that each will cost you less than $400 if you shop. Expensive gear is great, but no gear ever makes up for lack of education, training, and practice. Whether or not the ideas presented here will win the 100,000 round, paramilitary ninja torture tests are largely irrelevant for purposes of a decent home-defense gun. Whether it’s safe and reliable enough to operate under normal maintenance, storage, and usage conditions is. Let’s take a look.

Pump Shotguns

If you must keep costs down and want a shotgun, then pump is the way to go. The action design is reliable, but more important from the budget perspective is that pumps are economical to manufacture. A double-barrel shotgun has much manufacturing cost tied up in not one, but two barrels. Semi-automatics are great, but more complex to make, and therefore, more expensive for you to buy.

I just received a great example of a pump shotgun that you can buy, brand new, for less than $300. It’s a Stoeger P3000 that comes with 28” barrel, fiber optic front sight, and has a three-inch chamber, not that you need that for home defense applications. It sports a synthetic stock, so you don’t have to baby it at home or in the car.

This Stoeger P3000 pump-action shotgun carries an MSRP of just $299, so you can likely find it for less than that.
This Stoeger P3000 pump-action shotgun carries an MSRP of just $299, so you can likely find it for less than that.

Another interesting option is the Remington 870 Express line. If it's to be a home defense shotgun, I might even consider buying the youth model because it’s smaller and more compact for indoor use. Better yet, take a look at the 20 Gauge youth version. That better matches the smaller dimensions and lower weight to recoil.

No one is going to argue much about the reliability of an 870, and you can find one for about $350 pretty easily – less if you wait for sales.

Police Trade-In Pistols

Even though agency budgets are tight, law enforcement agencies rotate through guns. Manufacturers are always coming up with creative trade-in programs to help departments get the newest thing, and the net result is that batches of used police guns show up on the market from time to time. You can get a first-rate quality home defense guns for half of its new price if you’re patient. The best part is that, while they may be worn and show some age on the surface, many used police guns haven’t been fired nearly as much as you might assume. How many police officers break out their gun once a year for qualification? Maybe too many, but that’s good for you if you’re buying used home defense guns.

It's easy to find police trade in Glocks, Smith & Wesson's and Sigs as home defense guns . Once in a while you might even run across something with some character like this Italian police trade in Beretta 92S. Image: Bud's Gun Shop.
It's easy to find police trade in Glocks, Smith & Wesson's and Sigs as home defense guns . Once in a while you might even run across something with some character like this Italian police trade in Beretta 92S. Image: Bud's Gun Shop.

While you’ll see police trade-ins pop up in local gun stores from time to time, you also might want to look around online. You can buy one from anywhere and have it shipped to a local dealer. Looking around just today, I’ve found plenty of quality guns out there. Glock 22’s are plentiful, and will probably become even more available as many agencies switch to 9mm. Today, I see plenty of Glock 22 pistols on the market for about $350. Smith & Wesson M&P’s are also relatively easy to find in various sizes and in both 9mm and .40 S&W depending on what you like. Prices (again today) at Bud’s Gun Shop range from $319 to $399. Another place to looks is AimSurplus for police trades including some from across the pond. The lower end of the price scale has basic models, where the higher end allows niceties like night sights. Either way, those prices are hard to beat.

Just Google something like “police trade in pistols” when you’re ready to shop, and you should have no trouble finding some.

.22 Rifles for Home Defense Guns?

Hey, if money is the driving force for this discussion, it’s something to consider. A .22LR would never be my first choice for a defensive gun, mainly because they make really small holes. But, if we let economics rule for a minute, there might be some factors worthy of consideration.

In my mind, here’s what it boils down to. If your spending ceiling is $300 or so, then it’s tough to get a quality (new) pistol or revolver in that range. Yes, there are some out there. Yes, you may have a Model “X” that “works great.” But, yes, economics also dictates that there comes a point when you start asking too much performance, reliability, and overall quality per dollar. For example, it’s pretty tough to find a centerfire repeating (semi-automatic) rifle for less than $300 bucks. There’s just too much material and engineering to hit that price point and still have an acceptable quality level. While not impossible, (the Hi-Point 45 ACP Carbine is one exception that comes close in price) the same applies to most semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.

On the other hand, .22s are abundantly available at price points (new) below $300 – even semi-automatic ones.

For example, you can pick up a Ruger 10/22 Carbine for about $260. It comes with a 10-round rotary magazine, but you can easily add a Ruger-brand 25-round magazine that works. Yes, it’s a .22. Yes, there are plenty of home defense guns that may be more effective on a shot-for-shot basis. On the other hand, it’s affordable and exceptionally easy for just about anyone to handle. Even with the new normal of .22LR ammo pricing, it’s a lot cheaper than centerfire ammunition.

In some situations, a rifle as simple as a Ruger 10/22 might be the right answer.
In some situations, a rifle as simple as a Ruger 10/22 might be the right answer.

Perhaps the most compelling point in favor of the .22 semi-automatic rifle consideration is that you’ll develop skill. Why? It’s crazy fun to shoot. It’s likely that even the non-shooters in your household will really enjoy shooting this little rifle. The more they shoot, the better they’ll get and the more confidence they’ll develop handling this little firearm. Will your other family members likely dedicate the same round count on the range to a 12 gauge pump shotgun? Probably not. In this hypothetical example, would you rather have a non-gunnie family member pick up the .22 they shoot every weekend or a more powerful gun they've shot twice? It's an interesting tradeoff to ponder?

A quick side note: A reliable .22LR semi-automatic is a delicate pas de deux between a specific gun and a specific type of ammo. Quality ammo may or may not be reliable in your gun. Cheap ammo may or may not be reliable in your gun. .22s are notoriously ammo-finicky, so do plenty of shooting to figure out what 22lr ammo your home defense guns like.

Am I recommending that everyone run out and get a .22 rifle as one of their home defense guns? Certainly not. All I’m saying is that it might be an option for some folks in some cases. I’d much rather have something like a Ruger 10/22 by the nightstand than a Louisville Slugger.

Like any defensive strategy decision, it’s all up to you. You’re the only one who knows your specific needs, budget, and dedication of other people in the household. Regardless of what the internet says, there is rarely ever a single right or wrong answer that applies to everyone. Do your homework, research all the pros and cons, then weigh those against your personal situational factors. Only you can do that.

Most importantly, whatever your ultimate choice of home defense guns, learn how to use them. That’s worth far more than any theoretical equipment advantages.

About Tom McHale

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • 41 thoughts on “Home Defense Guns – Three Weapon Ideas On A Budget

    1. yes they mailed it to me express mail. no charge. called tech told them about trigger lag and they send new one. easy switch out. but it takes some time to ease the racking again. no more trigger lag (which comes on when a ton of rounds have been used apparently.) great customer service.

    2. Well I can’t speak for others because I have a couple Rugers, Beretta, Smith & Wesson and a Taurus that have made trips back and forth for issues, but my SCCY…no issues. Trigger did have a reset issue after a few thousand rounds but that’s why I changed the recoil spring and fixed it in a minute myself (free spring from SCCY). Again, best carry I have and incredibly reliable in my opinion.

    3. I bought a SCCY CPX-2 because the larger grip fit my XL hands better than other CCWs, but I still had to add a slip-on Hogue for added girth. Mine was hard to break in, and I sent it back to SCCY for adjustment, but they didn’t seem to fix anything. After more rounds than should have been required for break-in, it finally goes into battery without having to whack the back of the slide, after having used the slide release. The major issue with this gun is the trigger. It is long, hard, and sometimes doesn’t reset; you have to make sure your finger isn’t exerting ANY pressure on the trigger, or you could just float it off after each shot, which means slower fire rate. If you ever have to use this weapon in a gun fight, you will likely not be able to get shots off as fast as an adversary with a NORMAL trigger found on guns sold today.

    4. Have several handguns and long guns. So does my wife. We put rounds down range a couple times a week so our gear gets a workout. My carry is now a SCCY CPX 1 which was purchased new for less than $300. It is light weight but handles 9mm recoil well. It is accurate and reliable and fits my hand well (wife says it is a bit too fat for her). It is incredibly fun to shoot and has about 5,000 rounds through it. Only change was I changed out the recoil spring a few hundred rounds ago. I have handguns that cost several times what my SCCY cost me but none as reliable.

    5. Back in the mid seventies I worked in a packing house as the plant manager. I had to work in every department from killing them to processing them to selling them. I often worked the kill floor when there was no one else to work that position. We used a device that used .22 blanks to drive a piston into the brain of the cattle. I’d hold the end of the “gun” between their eyes and press the “trigger” to fire the blanks. The cattle always dropped lick a rock and were as dead as could be. It worked exceptionally well. On big boar hogs, we used a second “gun” that fired .32 blanks. Same result.

    6. Cannick (sp) makes an absolutely GREAT pistol and is made in Turkey. Now try to find one since as soon as they come in a distributor in Georgia grabs them all up and pumps them on the market. I have been on a wait list since January for one for the Mrs.
      Anyone that says “always” is ALWAYS wrong
      Can’t tell you how many people I either picked 22LR lead out of or pronounced Dead as a result of 22LR round fire
      I would MUCH prefer to dump 2 22LR rounds inside a dime sized circle in the mid-forehead then barely hit someone with a single 45ACP. I can most likely outshoot 80% of the readers (thank you Federal agency training) and I am not bold enough to suggest that 45ACP or even 40cal or 10mm is a better round then …. Sure they have more power but the give back is accuracy and NO ONE with a quarter of a brain is going to suggest that larger caliber is as accurate
      Dr D

    7. If a .22LR is not good enough for self-defense, why did one kill my uncle when he was accidentally shot in the head?

    8. Good article, but it piqued my curiosity, so I did some searching online, and found that if you shop carefully, there are a couple of other options. The SCCY pistols can be had for less than $275, though I doubt they’re any better than a Hi-Point. Depending on circumstances, surplus military rifles can still be had for under $300, if you are willing to forego the close range firepower of a semi-auto and live in an environment where firearm length and over-penetration are not serious considerations. If you hand load, the over-penetration issue can be mitigated. I found SKS carbines for sale for less than $400. These tend to be bank vault tough and reliable. If you are unlucky enough to live in a state such as New York, California, or Massachusetts, and have to stay under $400, your choices shrink a lot. A pump shotgun or a .22 auto about covers your choices. If you happen to live in California, etc., AND you’re left handed, as I do and am, you are well and truly SOL. Unless you’re OK with a single barrel shotgun or being smacked in the eye with a hot empty in the middle of a gunfight, you’re budget is going up to $600, and it’ll be a shotgun, a shotgun, or a shotgun. Period. Those are an Ithaca, a Browning BPS Hi Cap (what I ended up with when I couldn’t find a 37), or a new Mossberg 500 Left Handed Tactical model. I pester Mike Fifer for a left handed Mini 30 (Mini anything, really) every few months, but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. I’d love to hear first hand reports on the SCCY pistols. I have not personally reviewed one yet, so I can only speak from hearsay. People seem to like them. Any SCCY owners out there?

        1. I owned a SCCY 9 mm pistol that I bought barely used for $225.00. It wasn’t a bad little pistol. It worked fine once I worked on it polishing the internal parts and shot it enough so it was well broken in, but I sold it because I just couldn’t stand the feel of the trigger. Guess I’m just picky because I own other firearms with nicer feeling triggers.

    9. I have a beatiful desert sand 9mm semi that mag holds 18 rounds got for 349.99 with extra mag new. Fired 1000 rounds with no GLITCHES. MADE IN TURKEY. .

    10. My Hi Point .40 carbine is accurate, reliable, powerful enough with jhps for home defense and the Grand Prize Winner as the Ugliest Gun. I like my Rem 870 as a bedside companion.Loaded with #4 buck it won’t over penetrate, but the shot column will bore a hole through the first body it hits @ in-home distance.

    11. A friend once told me there three thing in home defense, shot placement, shot placement and shot placement. If you can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a 9mm it’s not much good. If you can take the eye out of a rat at 25 yards with a .22 you’ll stop them dead. Never get more gun than you can handle it may as well be a club!

      1. That, my friends, only significant factor, If you don’t hit the target ya may as well be shouting at it.

      2. Former Texas Gov. Perry carries a 22mag for concealed carry/personal protection. He knows all about shot placement as opposed to larger calibers.

    12. I love my Colt Trooper, it’s a retired police officer’s piece so it has some history and character. I picked it up at my local gun shop and it’s also fun to take to the range as well. It shoots both 357 and 38 special so that should be plenty of stopping power!!!! Great gun in my opinion.

      1. @Robert,I had a S&W 442 a few years back and sold it. I sure wish I had it back. Great gun for personal protection.

        1. That’s pretty much all you need,in my opinion. Unless of course all hell breaks loose. I keep it in my Sticky pocket holster,it’s perfect for me. Go get another one, they are always on sale somewhere.

    13. A 10/22 with a 25 round mag loaded with Velocitors may not have a lot of “stopping power”, but it will certainly get someone’s attention.

          1. Before the days of the pneumatic piston gun, slaughterhouses used the little .22 to drop 1200 to 1500 lb. cows with a single shot right between the headlights. The only reason they stopped using the .22 was that compressed air was cheaper than lead and gunpowder.

    14. Fugggitttabout the Stoeger P3000 shotgun. Made in Turkey JUNK. Buy a used Remington 870 at a pawn shop and be happy (along with your grandkids who will inherit same). Also, no matter what anyone else tells you, the 22 LR round is WORTHLESS for self defense purposes. You need to stop the actions of your attacker pronto and the 22 LR just won’t reliably cut the mustard for that purpose.

      1. Heck, I got a Rem. 870 Tactical at my local Walmart for $200. I have a rule about not buying durable goods at WM, but I couldn’t pas that one up.

      2. Sounds like you’ve had one in your hands and were able to fire it a bit to come up with your opinion. Exactly what aspects (functioning, reliability, comfort. etc.) did you not like about the gun to earn such a shitty, although very short, review?

        1. Bobby
          That was my question exactly! To blatently blow an entire nations gun manufacturing industry away one would hope that the poster has quite a bit of hands on personal experience with not only make and model but other makes as well. I have shot MANY Turkish weapons and actually liked them a lot. There is a gun made by a firm in Turkey that one can’t even get here because the demand is so great. It is a Akdal Ghost basically a Glock clone with some neat upgrades is supurb and ratings are off the charts in terms of customer satisfaction scores.
          There was an article in Field and Stream a while back that discussed the whole issue of why American’s seem to dis the Turkish gun industry with NO actual credible support for the opinions
          HKMP5’s are also made in Turkey under licesne from HK and I wouldn’t sell them short on ANY day
          As far as comments about 22LR what I can tell you is that after 30++ years of surgery and cleaning up messes in the ED at all times of the day and night if you look at the FBI database as will as the local ED records you will find as many fatalities with 22LR’s then with 9mm and 45cal’s
          SO much for the “they are too small and under powered to be of any use” The old days of thinking are simply WRONG! A rifle like the Ruger 10/22 with Velocitors or Remington Yellow Bees (copper clad hollow-point) will do MORE then enough damage to all but the person with 4 layers of clothes or body armor or a Kevlor lid. We are SO accustomed to equipping for the what if and not the most probable. A decade ago we started to teach high upper chest since it is statistically better then tryin g to hit a headshot. We need to do the same for gear ammo and the like. I would MUCH prefer to have a youth barrel 20ga then a full length 12ga that I can’t maneuver in a close quarters home invasion. Ever try to operate a 28″ barrel pump action or over-under in a hallway in a typical home? Having a Ruger 10/22 with 25 rounds is FAR better then blowing out your ears and all your family’s with a 5 shot 12ga and 3″ shells
          Time to be less righteous and more open to options
          Dr D

          1. My Dad was murdered with a 22LR from 107 feet away while standing on his front porch, so 22LR’s will kill but not my first choice. AR 15 223 or 5.56 with 20 or thirty rounds are a good choice. My first choice is what ever gun a can put my hands on quickest( shot gun beside my bed. My wife has here favorite 32 revolver and a 380 semi on her side of the bed and believe me she is a crack shot and she does not scare easily, so she is a great defense weapon. Men teach your wives and daughters to shoot it may save your life one day, but remember to behave if your wife shoots as good as mine.

      3. Here we go again with the .22lr “experts” who go on forums or comment about how the .22lr is worthless for anything other than poking holes in paper. Well, let me tell you mr clark kent, if you where to try and come in to my personal space and I fear for my life, you will be greeted by a volley of stingers aka .22lr pieces of lead which will penetrate your flesh and go about bouncing and shredding your internal organs all the while until the pieces finally stop. You may or not drop immediately but, if you’re still conscious, the only thing you will be contemplating is how in the world did “I get into this predicament and will I survive on the way to the hospital”. Rest assured mr kent, NO ONE wants to get shot by anything period, so the next time have a little respect for the use of firearms before you open your trap. Thanks and a have a beautiful day!

      4. Thank heavens “Clark Kent” is here to dispel all the mis-information in this article. And, who knew absolutely EVERYTHING gun made in Turkey is JUNK?
        Another armchair expert popping off to hear his own echo. Please, if you can’t offer something constructive and useful, just park your train in Shutty Town.
        BTW, I’ve seen some firearms that were beautiful in fit and finish, and . . . wait for it . . . they were made in . . . . Turkey.

        1. Since I wrote this I’ve been shooting the Stoeger P3000 more. It’s a nice shotgun, and considering the price, an excellent deal.

          “Clark Kent” is a regular troll around here, so just disregard him…

      5. Clark does bring up a point or two with pursuing a higher quality firearm and particular types of ammo. On the firearm side used has its benefits such as the action already being broken in and lower cost on a high quality firearm. I you recommend having a knowledgable person with you to look at used frirearms if you are new. The big benefit to higher quality firearms is usually aftermarket support, service, parts, accessories etc actually exist and are usually reasonable. Second is ammunition is it economic to train with. I bought a H&R .32 s&w long pistol for $100 but ammo cost a minimum of almost $35 for 50rds in RLN because I can only find it only and have to pay hazard shipping. Also where I live .22lr and mag are both very hard to find. Last thought is repeatability if you are familiar with an action the easier it will be to use after waking up in the middle of the night, in the dark or low light and/or full adrenaline. Personally I’m a fan of the 870 why? Because I use 4 different models of that action in hunting, 3-gun and home defense so know it inside and out.

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