In search of the best USA made handguns under $500? We searched out and discovered the best handguns to fit your criteria. Read below and discover why we selected these as the four best USA made handguns under $500 in 2018.
Kahr Pistol CT380 (CT3833)
This is a great double action only .380 pistol with a touch of class for your special Warrior. I like this .380 pistol because of its manageable size. The smaller you make any pistol or revolver, the harder it is to manage in a time of stress. I owned a mini revolver which shot .22 shorts. It was so small I had to use two hands to cock back the hammer. So a real small .380 semi-auto pistol cannot serve most people, as well as a realistic size pistol such as the Kahr CT380.
The CT380 is perfect for your first time carry conceal weapon. In fact, this Kahr CT380 could serve you as the one and only pistol you would need for personal and home protection. Say you as a single person (or you and your significant other) have never owned a firearm. With the recent increase of violence from gangs like the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha or Gang of Salvatrucha guerrillas) from El Salvador, and other violent groups as well as the coming terrorist threats, you will need to think about protection. If you have decided to take the responsibility of your own defense then you need to invest in a weapon, a firearm. After all we don’t want to bring a “nine iron” or “baseball bat” to a gun fight. For first time owners, many choose the spunky .380 acp caliber. The .380 has less recoil than its big brother the 9mm. The bullet diameter is the same but the .380 has lighter bullets, shorter case and less propellant.
Choosing the Kahr CT380 for your first pistol or your twelfth pistol, only makes since. This pistol is light at 11.44 ounces, holds eight rounds including one in the chamber, compact with a three inch barrel and is only three-quarter inch thick. However, the best part for first time owners and even very experienced shooters such as me, the Kahr CT380 is double action only (DAO). This means before this pistol fires, you would have to intentionally pull the trigger fully through the double action cycle. After the round is fired, the CT380 automatically ejects the spent cartridge and loads the next round. The shooter then has to pull fully through to fire the next round.
Unlike strike-fired pistols, I feel the DAO system is safer for first time shooters and those who do not shoot their primary defense pistol at least twice a month. When you load a live round into the strike-fired pistol this weapon is cocked. Considerably less pressure on the trigger will fire this pistol sending the bullet toward an intended or unintended target.
Do not be concerned about the trigger pull of the CT380. The DAO system is one of the smoothest on the market. This is a defense weapon to be used when things turn to “caca” and go south quickly. The CT380 is not a target pistol but a highly dependable and concealable life taker. With some practice at 15 feet, you should be able to hit a man size target eight out of eight rounds fired. I highly recommend Kahr products and the Kahr CT380 which is an amazing product at any price.
Kahr CT3833 Specs
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Barrel: 3.0 inches
- Overall length: 5.52 inches
- Height: 4.4 inches
- Slide Width: .75 inches
- Capacity: 7+1
- Operation: Trigger cocking DAO
- Weight: 11.44 ounces (w/o magazine)
- Grips: Textured polymer
- Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
- Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
- Magazine: 1 – 7 rd, Stainless
Can be found: $325 to $375
Ruger American 9mm Compact 17 +1 9mm Compact Pistol
Ruger, being an excellent firearms manufacturing company with a long history, is always stepping outside of their comfort zone to produce innovative products. One such product is the Ruger American 9mm Compact pistol packing 18 dirt-nap pills. This is one amazing semi-auto pistol which has the attributes one would want.
Ruger American 9mm compact pistol is a striker fired semi-auto and when fully loaded will hold eighteen round. The trigger in this pistol has a short take-up with an excellent positive reset. This means once the trigger is pulled it travels only a short distance forward to engage the sear making it ready to fire again. When practicing with the American 9mm, you will be able to feel the reset. I like this feature.
The recoil in this pistol is lessened due to the barrel cam, low-mass slide, and low center of gravity as well as a bore axis just above your wrist. What does this all mean? When fired the barrel cam is designed to reduce the slamming effect on the frame-rails when the side is propelled backward. This promotes longevity for the pistol. Because the side has low-mass with great center of gravity and a bore axis which is just above your wrist, the energy has a less “flipping effect” coming from the end of the pistol. The short of this is, it will be easier to keep your second and consecutive shots on target.
Ruger American 9mm is designed and tested to withstand the digestion of many thousands of 9mm +P rounds. The modular wrap-around grip system only enhances the shooter’s ability to control the recoil and place rounds on target. Rugers’ modular grip is fully adjustable for the palm swell of the shooter’s hand. This allows the ladies to have a greater trigger reach for comfortable shooting. In addition this pistol has an ambidextrous slide stop, manual safety and magazine release for you lefty creative types. Me I am right or left handed so this works great for me as well. Ruger even included an automatic sear block system which enhances the safety of a striker fired pistol.
When sighting down the slide at a pesky zombie, your chances of the one-shot head shot is almost guaranteed with the genuine Novak® LoMount Carry three-dot sights. The three dot system allows you to get on target quickly under the pressure of taking out the next, “mostly dead…walking dead”. After a full day of zombie eradication, the Ruger American 9mm Pistol can be easily disassembled with no tools or trigger pull. I like this feature as reducing the number of trigger pulls reduces the possibilities of unintentional discharges.
For you shooters who like and maybe depend on higher tech devices for your firearms needs, the Ruger American 9mm Pistol has a Picatinny rail for mounting lights, lasers, infra-red or “light-saber bayonets” to make it easier to get on your breathing or not breathing targets. From my personal experience when things go south and micro seconds count, it is easier to pull your weapon, point, and shoot. Personally, I do not like to depend on a dot in bright lighting systems. I like to point my pistol at the offending zombie and pull the trigger. Practice is everything.
If you like your magazines to last and stand up to hard use, then the Ruger American 9mm Pistol should be your choice. This pistol comes with two nickel- Teflon® plated steel magazines. One magazine is a 12 round version for CCW and one is a 17 round with a grip extension for those occasional zombie herds passing through your neighborhood.
The Ruger American 9mm Pistol is a great choice for defense of the home, on the go and while eating out with the family. I highly recommend this product for your zombie eradication needs.
Ruger American 9mm Pistol 8639 (Compact) Specs
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 3.55 Inches
- Overall Length: 6.6 inches
- Slide Width: 1.05 inches
- Height: 4.48 inches
- Weight: 29.2 ounces
- Magazine Capacity: 17+1 (finger extension) and 13+1 (CCW)
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel with Black Nitride Finish
- Grip Frame: One-Piece, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
- Safety: Option Manual Safety
- Sights: Novak® LoMount Carry 3-Dot
Can Be Found: $425.00
Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm (Crimson Trace Green Laser)
What can one say but to state the facts. Smith and Wesson (or S&W) has been in business since 1852 and founded in Norwich, Connecticut. Yes they have been making firearms for warriors, adventures, cowboys, outlaws, and the general population. S&W started even before Colt (1855) and SIG Sauer (1853). The first revolver I ever owned was one of the first S&W 38 special Military Police Models. So S&W has a rich and successful history. In the spirit of “give the shooter what they want”, Smith and Wesson has come out with many innovative products for the consumers of the World.
One of those innovations in pistols is the well accepted and high quality S&W M&P9 Shield M2.0 chambered in the speedy 9mm caliber. The 9mm was introduced in 1902 by Austrian Georg Luger and designated as the 9X19 Parabellum cartridge. Parabellum is Latin meaning prepare for war. The historical use or phrase is, “If you want peace, prepare for war” (.Roman General Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus cir. 450). To me Gen. Vegetius hit the nail right on the head some 1,568 years ago. If you don’t want the bad people attacking you then be prepared to fight them. After all, predators don’t attack the strong but seek out the weak.
Smith and Wesson six years ago came out with the M&P 9mm Shield which quickly became wildly popular. Since then several versions of the M&P Shield have been introduced. One M&P Shield I will review is the M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm (Crimson Trace Green Laser). To me this is one of the finest dependable 9mm compact pistol made. This defense weapon has a crisp lighter trigger pull than most other compact pistols. The trigger system has an audible trigger reset to aid the shooter in knowing when the firearm is ready to be re-fired. I like the grip texture which aids in keeping good control while shooting. The M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm is very thin and lightweight at 18.8 ounces unloaded. This will allow the warrior or sheepdog to go well balanced while among the sheep and wolves’.
One of the enhancements of the M&P Shield 2.0 is the Integrated Crimson Trace® Green Laser. The entire laser is tucked right in front of the trigger guard. The laser is great for use in indoors and areas of the outdoors not in direct bright sunlight. When there is bright sunlight, visual laser sighting is diminished. To make proper use of the green laser you need to practice in different lighting environments. I highly recommend taking the M&P Shield 2.0 with the green Crimson Trace® to an indoor range. Normal indoor range lighting is similar to lighting in a person’s home or office. Practice by standing at low ready and begin firing two to three rounds in a series of three which is one magazine plus one. Get used to finding your target first then find the laser marker virtually at the same time. However, do not look for the laser marker first and not fire if you can’t see it. In other words practice point shooting at 15 feet with the laser as a secondary sighting aid.
The Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm (Crimson Trace Green Laser) comes with two magazines, one 7 round (flat bottom) and one 8 round with a extended “pinky-rest” grip. This pistol is protected with Armornite® durable which is a corrosion resistant finish. The take-down lever and deactivation system allows the safer disassembly without having to pull the trigger. This is best and safest for striker-fired pistol.
I know and have talked to M&P Shield owners and carriers. I talked to one lady who told me she would never carry anything but her M&P Shield 2.0 9mm pistol no matter how fancy other compact pistols are. My own experience is supported by many testimonials of the quality and functionality of the Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield M2.0 9mm. This is a great pistol at any price but a fantastic buy at or below $500.00.
M&P®9 SHIELD M2.0™ Integrated Crimson Trace® Green Laser NTS Specs
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 7+1, 8+1
- Barrel Length: 3.1” (7.9 cm)
- Overall Length: 6.1″
- Front Sight: Steel – White Dot
- Rear Sight: Steel – White Two-Dot
- Action: Striker Fire
- Grip: Polymer
- Weight: 18.8 oz / 533.0g
- Barrel Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
- Slide Material: Stainless Steel – Armornite® Finish
- Frame Material: Polymer
- Purpose: Concealed Carry, Personal Protection
Can Be Found: $425.00
Smith & Wesson
Charter Arms 53921 Off Duty, Black/High Polish SS, Concealed
Douglas McClenahan started Charter Arms in 1964. Douglas had learned his trade by working for Colt, High Standard, and Sturm, Ruger. The first firearm model he designed and produced was the Charter Arms Undercover. The Undercover then was a five shot .38 special revolver with an external hammer. This 1964 version was lighter and cheaper than the S&W Chief and Colt Detective Special. For this reason the Charter Arms Undercover of the sixties was widely accepted by civilian and law enforcement. I carried one undercover in an ankle holster while buying illegal drugs. The Undercover served me well.
The Charter Arms “Off Duty” is the modern internal hammer version of the Undercover from the sixties. The Off Duty is a five shot .38 special +P revolver designed for those warriors and sheepdogs who go around in life well healed. This little revolver is ideal for grabbing up and putting it in your pocket as you walk out the door. Depending on what you are wearing, there is no need for a holster. If you are concerned about needing a quick five more rounds you can buy the HKS 36A speed loader which I personally use. Using dummy rounds, with some practice on the range or at home, you can fairly quickly reload the Off Duty.
This little two inch barrel double-action only dynamo is constructed from heat treated aluminum for the frame and stainless steel for the barrel, cylinder, trigger, cylinder crane and internal parts. Unloaded it tips in at 12 ounces. The Charter Arms Off Duty is a quality product for those who will not pay $600 to $1,000 for a CCW weapon. Many Warriors and Sheepdogs carry the Charter Arms products because of its reliability, conceal ability and price.
As with any firearm you will be carrying for protection, you should practice with this pistol at least two times a month. I would suggest you use lower velocity .38 spl. ammo for 80% of the rounds you fire, and the remaining 20% should be from your carry defense +P ammo stash. Use the jacketed +P ammo after you fire the less expensive practice ammo.
Based on my professional experience with the Charter Arms Undercover, I would highly recommend for CCW and off duty carry, this small powerhouse Charter Arms “Off Duty”. This is a great smaller five shot revolver for Warriors and Sheepdogs alike.
Charter Arms 53921 Off Duty, Black/High Polish SS, Concealed Specs
- Barrel length: 2 inches
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Finish: Black and Hi-polish
- Frame: 7075 Aluminum
- Grip: Compact
- Capacity: 5-shot
- Caliber: .38 Special +P
- Hammer: Internal
Can Be Found: $375.00
Tried to rate it a 5 but hit 4, stupid thumb! Good read.
I have one of them thumbs as well. Thanks Beau! Sometime we need to go shooting.
I like the Kahrs and have no problem controlling the 9mm PM9 or CM9. Why go .380 when you can go 9mm?
Firearm preferences including calibers are the same as bellybuttons. Everyone has one. For the first time shooters of a lighter stature or temperament, some people just like the .380acp caliber. I personally carry a .45cal semi-auto and plan on exploring the KAHR CT45. For a revolver I like shooting my Ruger Besley .480 single-action. Not a firearm to start with. Thanks for you input.
I couⅼdn’t resist commｅnting. Very well ԝritten!
Thank you for your encouraging words. I try my best to write about what I like and think.