You don’t need to spend a fortune to get good reliable budget handguns that are going to last a long time and are already proven.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- We have handguns for just about every purpose, size, caliber, and persuasion, but one area where a handgun does make a lot of sense is if you are out hiking or camping, especially if you plan on being away from civilization for awhile.
Despite all the technological advances, there are still quite a few places where cell phones don’t work, and you are hours away from help.
Having a reliable handgun with you should not only be a consideration, it should be second nature, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank finding something for the great outdoors.
A handgun for the trail doesn’t necessarily have to go by the same requirements as say something you would choose for concealed carry in a more urban setting. You are more likely to want to go with something that is practical, but also very rugged and extremely reliable that can take some punishment being out and about. While it sounds like that is going to cost you a lot of money, there are quite a few choices out there to be had for $400 or less.
I view budget handguns for the trail as part personal defense and part survival, so the choice of calibers might not be as orthodox or what some consider too popular. While someone might be thinking of bears, you are more likely to run into predators of the two-legged variety than anything else so don’t think you need to buy the largest cannon in the armory.
One of my favorite budget handguns and one that has gone with me on more than a few outdoor trips is my Makarov PM pistol. The Makarov PM is one of the most rugged military service handguns ever made. Chambered in 9x18mm, which gives a slight edge over the .380 but falls short of the 9mm Luger, the Makarov PM makes up for any shortcomings by being rugged and reliable.
To those not familiar with the Makarov PM, it was designed in the Soviet Union as a replacement for the Tokarev TT-33. It was inspired by the Walther PPK, but it was simplified and made with fewer parts. The Soviet military and police were first to use it, then the East Germans and Bulgarians also produced their copy, and then later the Chinese, but it was used all over the Soviet Union including Cuba and continues in service in Eastern Europe to this day.
The Makarov is a simple pistol with an eight round magazine and is all steel, no polymer to be found. While the Russian and East German versions tend to be a little more expensive, the Bulgarian PM is a very affordable budget handgun, commonly around $300 to $350. While the markings might be a bit different than the Russian and the finish not as nice as the East German, the gun is identical in every way, and the parts are completely interchangeable. Surplus flap holsters are also overly abundant and sometimes can even be purchased with the Makarov. While not the most conducive for concealed carry, they’re great for being on the trail and cost often around $10 or so.
Along the same lines as of the Makarov PM is another surplus pistol of the same caliber, the Polish P-64. Also inspired by the Walther PPK design, the P-64 was designed and built for the Polish Army and was introduced in 1965. A somewhat compact pistol slightly more than six inches in length, the P-64 is the same overall length as the Glock 43. Like the Makarov PM and the Walther PPK design, the P-64 is a double action/single action with a manual decocker on the left side. While there are some complaints about the double action trigger pull of the P-64, replacement springs that lighten it up are available from Wolff Gunsprings and others and are easy to replace. The P-64 is also all steel, and is also about as reliable as church on Sunday and can be had for around $250 or so at any given time, an excellent deal for the money laid out.
If revolvers are more your fancy and you like surplus, then the Nagant Model 1895 revolver is your ticket. As one can guess, the revolver was designed and put into service in 1895. Although known for its Russian service, the gun is of Belgian origin as was its creators, Leon and Emile Nagant who were well known to the Tsar’s military. The gun was pressed into Russian service and was chambered in 7.62x38mmR, which is a unique round. The bullet is seated below the mouth of the casing, which allows the casing itself to enter the forcing cone. This creates a gas seal which is completed when the gun is cocked, either in double or single action and the cylinder goes forward against the forcing cone. The Nagant M1895 is perhaps the only revolver that can be suppressed because the seal doesn’t allow any gas to escape, although that’s not a real consideration for someone looking for a handgun for the trail.
While some might not consider the round from the Nagant M1895 overly powerful, the fact that the cylinder holds seven rounds is a plus, and the 7.62x38mmR with a 97-grain bullet is advertised as having a muzzle velocity of 1,000 fps which falls in between the .32 ACP and the .32 H & R Magnum. While the Nagant’s trigger pull is known for being very tough in double action, it can be worked with, and the single action pull is usually very agreeable. At one time you could buy a Nagant M1895 for less than $200, but the prices are now creeping up to $300, which is still reasonably affordable since the revolvers are known for being very tough and extremely reliable. Most Nagant M1895 revolvers come with a flap holster, a cleaning rod, and a screwdriver. They served the Soviet Union in two World Wars and on through to Korea, and some ended up in Vietnam. Ammunition is commonly available and reloading the cartridge is not as hard as one would make it out to be.
There are many excellent budget handguns out there that will work well for carrying on the trail that all cost under $400. You can pick up a Beretta 92S, a Star Model BM, a Polish P-83 or even a CZ-70 and they will all do the trick.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get good reliable budget handguns that are going to last a long time and are already proven. You might have to look past the urge to buy a new gun though, but having owned many surplus guns over the years, I can tell you that most, while not overly attractive will get the job done and will do it well.
About David LaPell
David LaPell has been a Corrections Officer with the local Sheriff's Department for thirteen years. A collector of antique and vintage firearms for over twenty years and an avid hunter. David has been writing articles about firearms, hunting and western history for ten years. In addition to having a passion for vintage guns, he is also a fan of old trucks and has written articles on those as well.