If you’re in the market for a good handgun, chances are you’re on a budget. We reveal the four best handguns under $400 that deliver good, dependable and high-quality options at a price you can afford.
1. Ruger LCRx Model 5462 38 spl. Revolver
Ruger makes several “snub-nose” small revolvers. Their calibers run from .22 long rifle, .22 mag, .327 Federal Mag to .357 mag. All of these Ruger revolvers are high quality, made in America, firearms which can be used for protection to backpacking. If you are like me who is always looking for high quality and functional products at cheaper prices, then the Ruger LCRx 5462 in .38 special deserves a hard look. For around $350 total you can get a creditable dirt-bag stopping handgun in the LCRx .38spl. This is what makes it one of the four best handguns under $400.
Now I like many different handguns. It seems I like them either huge or small. But for carrying off duty, I need to carry a firearm which will remove a threat quickly and humanely. As a citizen with a CCW or who’s State has “Constitutional Carry”, you should carry a firearm which will stop the threatening actions of another. The Ruger LCRx Model 5462 38 spl. revolver makes a great CCW. If another is making threatening actions, and in some cases statements of immediate death, which cause you to strongly believe imminent death is near, you can legally use deadly force. Check with your local prosecutor’s office to learn how your State laws are worded.
Everyone knows their own true self. If you want a handgun for self-defense but know you will not practice with it at least four times a year, then the revolver is for you. It is as safe as any firearm and simple to operate. The revolver has been round since 1835 when Colt filed for a British patent. Generally speaking the revolver is a dependable firearm which will function even if its loving care is withheld.
The Ruger LCRx in 38spl+P is a high quality, functional dependable and forgiving handgun. You load up five .38spl+P rounds, close the cylinder and you are ready to go. If an event arises wherein you must take action, you pull out the LCRx, aim and squeeze the trigger. Simple to do but highly stressful to go through.
The LCRx 5430 has an exposed hammer in contrast to the straight LCR .38spl+P which has an internal hammer. There are pros and cons on the exposed and internal hammers. My way of thinking is if the hammer is internal then the manual cocking for a steady shot has been removed. Also, in the unlikely event you have a high-primer you can manually cock the pistol to force it to rotate to the next live round. With factory rounds this is very unlikely to happen.
For personal defense in the home, while on vacation or backpacking, the LCRx is the perfect companion. The Ruger LCRx can be found for less than $350. If you are looking to have a single firearm for different personal protection duties, then look no farther. Check out the link for Grab-A-Gun to orders today.
- Barrel Length: 1.87 inches
- Twist: 1:16 inch RH
- Overall Length: 6.50 inches
- Height: 4.50 inches
- Weight: 17.7 ounces
- Capacity: 6 rounds
- Grooves: 6
- Grips: Hogue® Tamer™ Monogrip®
- Front Sight: Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
- Rear Sight: U-Notch Integral
- Cylinder Finish PVD
- Finish: Matte Black
- CA Approved: No
- MA Approved & Certified: No
- MSRP: $669.00
Can Buy: $339 + $7.99 shipping
Looking for the best revolver for CCW? Read more about the Ruger LCR .38 Special +P.
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2. Ruger American Pistol Model 8639 9mm Compact Semi Auto
If you are anticipating a Zombie Apocalypse wherein the Ruger LCRx five shot revolver would fall short for this type of defense then fear not, Ruger has the answer. Actually Ruger has many firearms which will do some serious damage to any zombie horde. But for EDC as well as home defense, the Ruger American Pistol Model 8639 17+1 shot 9mm at $359 is hard to beat. This semi-auto striker fired pistol is very dependable. Just because it is priced right does not mean it is a cheap firearm. Ruger does not make cheap firearms.
Obvious advantage of the semi-auto pistol over the revolver is the amount of dirt-nap pills which can be dispensed before you need to reload. The Ruger American Pistol Mod. 8639 has a recoil reducing barrel cam and a low-mass slide allowing for a lower center of gravity and low bore axis. This mean this pistol will be easier to point-shoot at your targets. From a distance of 15 feet, with little practice, you should be able to hit a man size sillouette with at least 90 percent of your shots.
The Ruger American Pistol has ambidextrous slide stop and magazine releases. This is a good thing for you left-handed warriors. The Model 8639 has a little over 3.5 inch barrel but still has a Picatinny rail for those of you who feel the need for a mounted laser light or flashlight. All 9mm models of the Ruger American Pistol come with two extra nickel- Teflon® plated steel magazines as well as grip modules coming small, medium and large. A small handed lady shooter will benefit with the small grip and you Sasquatch types the large module grip will make the feel of this great pistol amazing.
- Barrel Length: 3.55 inches
- Overall Length: 6.65 inches
- Height: 4.48 inches
- Slide Width: 1.05 inches
- Weight: 29.2 ounces unloaded
- Capacity: 17+1 9mm
- Twist: 1:10 inches RH
- Grooves: 6
- Sights Front Back: Novak® LoMount Carry 3-Dot
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel
- Slide Finish: Black Nitride
- Grip/Frame: One-Piece, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
- Grips: Ergonomic Wrap-Around Grip Module
- Safety: Option Manual Safety
- CA Approved: No
- MA Approved & Certified: No
- MSRP: $579.00
Can Buy: $359 with free shipping
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3. KAHR CW9 9mm Semi Auto Pistol
KAHR ARMS is a high quality firearms manufacture. They provide a high quality dependable product to the shooting community. The KAHR CW9 semi-auto in 9mm is a very dependable firearm which can be used as a CCW weapon. The CW9 is compact, slim and easy to conceal. In the 9mm caliber and even in 9mm+P ammo, the CW9 has very controllable recoil. This possible due to the lock breech and Browning type recoil lug.
Many times a warrior finds a need for protection but if need be go to the offense. You may not subscribe to the zombie apocalypse style of being well armed. You may just want to grab your weapon and one extra mag and head to the store for Milk. Not having a pistol which holds 19 rounds is not a real problem for citizen warriors. A good compact 9mm with eight rounds and extra mag is sufficient. Shot placement is more efficient, safer and will cause less collateral damage. Practicing is the key to be efficient with a compact firearm of any caliber.
The CW9 is a DAO or double action only semi-auto pistol. This means you have to pull the trigger each time to cock and fire the pistol. This is a combat feature. Every trigger pull is the same. It will be less likely you will unintentionally fire this pistol. For combat I like this feature. This is not a feature for 25 yard target shooting but gunplay inside of 10 yards. The KHAR CW9 does not have a magazine disconnect, meaning it can be fired if the magazine is not present in the grip. There is a positive side to this feature. If you decide to reload a fresh mag when there is one in the pipe, while in this process you need to you can fire the loaded round.
All KAHR ARMS products are made in the USA and are of the first quality parts and craftsmanship. The CW9 is one of the more perfect CCW semi-autos which carry 8 rounds or less. I highly recommend this affordable weapon which can be found for $327 plus shipping.
- Barrel: 3.7 inches
- Length: 5.9 inches
- Height: 4.5 inches
- Slide Width: .90 inches
- Weight: 17.7 ounces
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 7+1
- Operation: Double Action Only
- Grips: Textured polymer
- Front Sight: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat
- Rear Sight: Pinned in polymer front sight
- Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
- Magazine: 7 Stainless
- MSRP: $449
Can Buy: $326.49 + Shipping can vary.
4. KEL-TEC PF-9, 9mm Semi-auto Pistol
I own and carry KEL-TEC products. KEL-TEC pistols, rifles and shotguns are always on the cutting edge. The people at KEL-TEC like to think outside of the box. This is why I like the brand. The KEL-TEC PF-9 9mm semi-auto pistol is a very dependable and top quality pistol. It is very compact weighing in at 12.7 ounces unloaded. Its overall length is 5.85 inches and a height of 4.3 inches. The width is about 0.88 which makes it a pocket pistol for sure. The PF-9 is about the size of most .380 semi-auto pistols. The PF-9 has a DAO system with a five pound trigger pull. This pistol comes with a seven round magazine which means you can carry eight dirt-nap pills at one time.
The PF-9 functions without malfunctions. I would suggest once you buy your PF-9 you should field strip this pistol, clean the frame and slide with new lubrication applied. I would then buy two boxes of 9mm ball ammo and get comfortable with this pistol. Then I would strip this pistol again and clean the frame and slide. Reapply lubrication on the slide and on the frame where they come together. This is a good way to break in a new auto pistol. I have just pulled the semi-auto out of the box at the range, load and let it rip. Only a few will not have some feed or extraction malfunctions. This is why with the advent of semi-auto pistols in the law enforcement field. Standard training includes clearing drills with your pistol.
Now you would think a compact pistol weighing in at 12.7 ounces has some recoil issues. Not with the PF-9. The recoil is less than one would think. There is some recoil but nothing any adult shooter could not handle. The carry ammo I would carry in the PF-9 would be a faster and lighter projectile. For up close CCW defense I would carry the COR-BON Silver 9mm Luger +P 80gr Glaser Silver. This is a low penetration round with less recoil due to the lighter bullet. If you do have to defend yourself, there is less worry about over penetration of the primary target and hitting someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you would miss, this round will destruct on solid objects such as brick and concrete walls.
I hope you are never put in a place where you have to use a deadly weapon to defend yourself. If you do, make sure your Dirt-bag is down and not able to harm others. If the attacker is down and out of action, I warn you to not keep shooting them. After all you are only trying to stop them from harming you or others and not out to kill them.
- Barrel Length: 3.1 inches
- Caliber: 9x19mm Luger (9mm)
- Weight: 12.7 ounces Unloaded
- Magazine Capacity: 7 rounds
- Overall Length: 5.85 inches
- Height: 4.3 inches
- Width: 0.88 inches
- Trigger Pull: 5 pounds
- MSRP: $356.36
Can Buy: $280 + Ship free to store
Very good article Clint. I hope you and Kathy are doing well. I am now a firearm instructor at Wilshire Gun Range, not far from your home. Drop in sometime and we can sit down and have lunch or a cup of coffee. I particularly like your assessment of Ruger handguns; I own and have owned several, and have always found them reliable and cost-effective. Merry Christmas!
Great to here from you. After Christmas we will have to hook up. email me with your work schedule.
well, i think The PF-9 has the high cost relative to Smith and Wesson guns or rugger LCp guns they are cheap. But this PF-9 gun Is something that I need to buy for my friend. Well, your article was great!!
Thank you for visiting our website. It is a site for Warrior minded people, men and women. I appreciate your feedback.
“The most dangerous man on earth is the man who has reckoned with his own death. All men die; few men ever really live.”
― John Eldredge, Wild at Heart Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul
Clint, did you have a problem with the butt end of the Ruger American Pistol Compact digging into your hand when firing it??
No I did not. As you know, everyone is different and their hands even more so. If you have the 9mm Ruger American Pistol, try lighter projectiles such as the Sig Sauer 115 grain “365” ammo. It is made for the compact 9mm pistols. The heaver the projectile, the more the recoil. Sig Sauer’s P365 SAS is an excellent pistol which has addressed the recoil-factor.
Having a tighter grip on the pistol can reduce the “digging” effect. It is not fun to shoot a pistol which digs into your hand. I have a couple of seriously “Bad-Boy” revolvers which have some spunk. If the Ruger is not working for you, you might check out the Sig Sauer P365 SAS. https://warriorsandsheepdogs.com/sig-p365-sas-9mm-best-ccw/