The last nine U.S. Presidents and numerous State Governors have signed laws since 1964 that restrict gun ownership for the public, forbid carrying a gun in an increasing number of places, put limits on magazine capacities, outlawed cosmetic features on otherwise standard rifles and also banned certain brands and models of guns from sale. The result has been strong upward pressure on gun pricing across the market. A lot of prospective gun owners are left wondering how to afford a safe, quality firearm. With that in mind, we took a look at five options for the best handgun under 500 dollars. For a full list of great handguns, check out our guide to handguns here.
5 Options For Best Handgun Under $500
Ruger SR9 Compact
The SR9c is a compact version of Ruger’s highly respected SR9 9mm pistol. The SR9c has the same 1.27-inch grip width as the standard SR9, with an overall length of less than seven inches and a total height of 4.6 inches. The standard magazine capacity is 10 rounds, but it comes with a second magazine that holds 17 rounds (except in “ban states”, which receive a second 10-rounder). When the 17-round magazine is seated, it creates a full-sized grip that is virtually identical to the standard SR9.
* Ambidextrous safety levers
* Accessory rail for installing lasers, lights and other accessories
* Three-dot glow-in-the-dark sight system
* Loaded chamber indicator can be checked both visually and by touch.
Beretta PX4 Storm Compact
This is a well-balanced and hefty-feeling piece of work that inspires confidence in its handling, partly due to the larger grip size than other compacts and partly due to its sheer quality and balance. The larger grip of the Beretta PX4 Storm also means this pistol is easy to bring on target. The slide release is ambidextrous and the gun includes an integrated lanyard loop.
* Full-sized grip with 16-round capacity (15 in magazine, one in chamber).
* Patented Beretta rotary-barrel system to improve recovery time, improve shot consistency and reduce the felt recoil.
* Accessory rail designed into the slide.
* Integrated, retractable lanyard loop.
Springfield XD Service .40
The Springfield XD Service .40 is currently the best-selling compact on the market and it is the shortest compact carry gun available in the .40 Smith and Wesson caliber. It’s easy to break down and night sights are available. The gun includes rail mounts even though it is very small. The four-inch length and light weight are reasons to practice with this gun before it’s needed, because it can be a little squirrelly in the handling department with that .40-caliber power stuffed into this small of a package. The accessory package alone makes a strong case for the XD Service .40 as the best handgun under 500 dollars.
* Comfortable grip with a 1911-style integrated safety on the back strap.
* Includes a plastic carrying case that holds the gun, its holster, magazine holster, two magazines, a gun lock and the magazine loader.
* Less than four inches long and weighs around 1.5 pounds.
* Magazine capacity is 15 rounds.
S&W M&P Shield
The Shield is a relatively new design from Smith and Wesson, providing an easily-concealable, lightweight polymer weapon in a very small and reliable design. Smith and Wesson is well-known for the quality of its weapons, and the M & P Shield does not disappoint. M & P means military and police, and this is a serious design that lives up to the M & P concept, wrapped in a well-balanced package. This gun is only an inch thick and can be carried under the waistband comfortably and drawn easily.
* Smith offers the gun in both .40 S & W and 9mm.
* One-inch frame thickness makes for easy concealed carry as a backup.
* Polymer frame and 3.1-inch stainless barrel with a stainless slide.
* Audible action reset to provide certainty this gun is ready for action.
Browning Buck Mark Standard URX .22LR Pistol
Although a .22 Long Rifle doesn’t hit as hard as other rounds, self-defense fights tend to happen at very short range and in a very short time span, making shot placement more critical than any other aspect of the task. It’s better to hit an attacker a few times with a small round than to miss them with a powerful one. This gun is an ideal choice for the elderly, frail or disabled shooter. URX means Ultragrip RX, referring to the deeply sculpted, ambidextrous grips with molded finger grooves. These grips on the Browning Buck Mark .22 help provide consistency to aid in accurate shot placement. You can read more on the our picks for best .22 handguns here.
* 10-round magazine.
* The slide has machined features such as serrations and a raised panel to make it easy to operate, and the slide release can be operated with either hand.
* The 5.5-inch stainless steel barrel has a substantial, non-tapered bull barrel profile that provides exceptional steadiness.
With all of these guns offering great features, high quality and great accuracy, our pick for the best handgun under 500 dollars would be the Buck Mark for its precision construction, ease of handling and exceptional accuracy for less experienced or physically frail shooters, or the Beretta PX4 for its quality and full-sized grip. The Springfield XD is a strong contender as well, as evidenced by its sales leadership and outstanding accessory package. The truth is, you can’t go wrong with any of these guns, but you should hold and shoot every one of them before making your own final decision.