Top 5 Budget Guns: Another Take

When I was asked to write a list of my top five budget guns, my first thought was, “What will these guns be used for? Hunting? Target shooting? Defense?” I wasn’t quite sure where to start. Then, I thought about it for a little bit and I started asking more questions and decided to have a bit of fun with it.

How many uses could I cover in this article? As I begin writing the article, I have no idea. So let’s get going and see how many uses we can come up with, and which budget guns are out there for us to buy.

Throughout the article, I tried to find the lower-cost options. They’re not always the coolest or nicest options, but I intended to find the lowest-cost firearms while still observing decent quality. I’ve also used most of the firearms on this list, so I can attest to most of their quality.

I’ll start the list off at #5 and work down to #1. That doesn’t necessarily mean that one gun on the list is better than another, but we have to put them in some sort of order. So here we go!

#5: The Remington 700 ADL

Introduced in 1962, Remington’s Model 700 has become legendary in the world of bolt action rifles. Why?

Because it works. And it uses “Three Rings Of Steel.” Gosh, what’s that? I’ll tell you! A recessed bolt face fits into a recess in the barrel. Then there is a ring around the action, all of which forms three rings. What’s so great about that? If a cartridge fails, those three rings prevent gas and particles from the round from reaching the shooter. All things considered, it makes for a strong action.

These days, even off-the-shelf Remington 700s are extremely accurate. The one reviewed for this article easily shoots one MOA, which is to say, one inch at 100 yards, and that’s with standard hunting ammunition. It was enough to impress me, I’ll tell you.

Remington 700 ADL at the range.
Despite the inexpensive price tag, this Remington 700 ADL is very accurate. Photo: Katie Davis.

Many police and military snipers use the Remington 700 action and have been using them for decades.

This particular rifle is the ADL, which designates that the magazine is internal in the stock. The Model 700 BDL has a magazine with a hinged floor plate, which makes unloading the magazine easier. The ADL’s internal magazine has to be unloaded via the chamber area. However, the ADL’s simpler construction makes the rifle a little less expensive, and since this is a Budget article, that cost savings counts.

This rifle belongs to a family member, and it was purchased from a local chain store for around $250. To make it an even better deal, it came with a 3-9x rifle scope already mounted. This rifle is in .30-06 caliber.

Uses covered: Target shooting, defense, and hunting.

#4: Savage Rascal

We can’t forget about our youngest shooters as they are the future of shooting sports. Savage seems to agree. They introduced their Rascal model specifically for children to learn how to shoot.

The Savage Rascal in action.
Savage’s Rascal is perfect for little tykes to learn the art of shooting. It’s a simple, bolt-action .22 LR rifle. Photo by Rifle Shooter.

The Rascal is a single-shot bolt-action .22 Long Rifle rifle that’s very small so children can comfortably handle it. There is no magazine to confuse the kids, so the operation is as simple as can be.

The barrel length is 16.25 inches, with an overall length of 31.25 inches. Weight is just 2.66 pounds. The synthetic stock is available in an assortment of colors for kids to choose from. For those who are left-handed, there’s a version available for southpaws.

The aperture sights are very simple, and the receiver is drilled and tapped for easy mounting of optics. The trigger is set at 3.5 pounds, which is pretty light.

The fact that it’s chambered in .22 Long Rifle makes the caliber perfect for this rifle. Low recoil, low noise, and inexpensive cost make the .22 a winner.

Speaking of low cost, this rifle sells in gun shops for well under $200.

Uses covered: Target Shooting.

#3: Taurus G3

The G3 is one of Taurus’s entries into the polymer pistol wars. While there are many other pistols out there that are similar, the G3 offers a solid performer for the money. The caliber of the pistol that we reviewed is 9mm.

The grip is good, fitting my medium-sized hands very well. The stippling that Taurus uses helps to keep a firm purchase on the pistol during recoil. The dust cover sports a Picatinny rail, so lights and lasers can be mounted easily.

One item that sets this pistol apart is the fact that it has a manual safety, which is a rarity these days. While it irritates some people, it doesn’t bother me. I simply won’t use a safety if I don’t have a use for it. On top of that, the trigger has a blade safety on the front face of the trigger, just like any factory Glock pistol.

Taurus G3 in 9mm.
The Taurus G3 has most of the features of other polymer pistols. It is 100% reliable and accurate. Photo: Jim Davis.

Speaking of the trigger, the pull is around six pounds, and the takeup is typical of most polymer pistols. The break is pleasantly crisp, making for a surprisingly good trigger, overall.

The G3 comes with one 15- and one 17-round magazine, giving it a respectable capacity. The edges of the slide and frame are rounded, including the front edge of the slide, which makes holstering easier. All controls are pretty much standard as far as auto pistols go.

Sights are 3-dot and work very well. To Taurus’s credit, they are metal.

Overall, the Taurus G3 proved to be 100% reliable and accurate. Understand, it’s not my very first choice for a defensive pistol. With that said, if it was all I had to carry, I’d feel okay because of the reliability and accuracy, along with the decent ergonomics.

As this is written, the retail price of this pistol is around $339, but it can be had at gun shops for well under that. All in all, this is one of the best values for a defensive handgun on the market. Again, it’s not the latest/greatest, flavor-of-the-month pistol, but it works and it’s not expensive.

Uses covered: Defense, target.

#2: Mossberg Maverick 88

Mossberg is a staple in the shotgun market, long known for making reasonably priced, dependable shotguns. If you’re in the market for a solid, inexpensive shotgun, this is the one for you.

Let’s use the Maverick 88 – Security version for example. It has a 20-inch barrel and holds 7+1 rounds.

Maverick 88 at the range.
Mossberg’s Maverick 88 might be a budget gun, but this pump-action 12-gauge is huge on performance. Photo by Mossberg.

It’s a pump-action in 12 gauge (up to 3-inch shells), so it’s reliable. It has dual extractors and twin action bars. Accessories and other stocks are available for this shotgun. Weight is 6.5 pounds with an overall length of 41 inches. The stock is synthetic and available in a few colors.

I used to own a Maverick 88 in the past and found it to be 100% reliable and durable. The action is fast to operate and it’s about as accurate as any other combat shotgun on the market.

Another plus is that 12-gauge ammo is sold everywhere that ammo is available.

The listed retail price as this is written is $276, so it’s available for less than that at most gun shops. This represents an exceptional buy; you get a lot of gun for the money.

Uses covered: Defense, hunting, target.

#1: Ruger 10/22

Finally, we’re at the #1 spot. And yes, in my opinion, the Ruger 10/22 is the best gun for the buck that you can buy. Let’s see why.

Since its inception in 1964, over seven million 10/22s have been built. Obviously, this rifle has something going for it, and people have taken notice. Everyone needs a 10/22 or two in their firearms collection.

I’ll start off with the price – they can be had for well under $300 in most gun shops. That represents a spectacular buy for what this rifle will do. What will it do, since I’m on the subject? It’s awesome for just plinking away an afternoon at the range. In some areas, people can take it small game hunting. It’s certainly viable for self-defense (more on that in a moment).  The 10/22 is utterly reliable and dependable. As a long-term survival rifle, it’s hard to beat.

Ruger 10/22 Compact with various magazines.
Ruger’s 10/22 is inexpensive and wildly popular, not to mention reliable. Accessories such as these magazines in various capacities abound. Photo: Jim Davis.

The amount of aftermarket parts and accessories for the 10/22 is staggering. Stocks, barrels, triggers, optics, the list never ends. And magazines! The rifle comes standard with a factory 10-round magazine, but there are also factory 15, 25, and 50-round magazines available for it. You can even get a 110-round drum! Those magazines really bring this little rifle into the realm of self-defense. Yes, it’s “only” a .22 Long Rifle, but when you have 25 rounds on tap, you can defend the homestead. Obviously, the .22 isn’t as powerful as many other rounds, but when you have 25 of them on tap, you can make most attackers go away.

Barrel length is just over 16 inches on the Compact model, and 18 inches on the standard models. Weight is around 4.5 pounds, so it’s very light.

Uses covered: Defense, target, hunting, survival.

In Closing

While we might have been able to whittle away some pennies, finding somewhat cheaper firearms, we believe the firearms presented here meet good, solid quality levels. As mentioned, they are no-frills and not the latest, greatest models. But they work, and they do it inexpensively.

While many of us enjoy having the fancier items in life, sometimes an economically priced, non-fancy tool just fills the bill well. And sometimes, that’s good enough.

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities. He is a dedicated Christian and attributes any skills that he has to the glory of God.

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