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5 Durable ‘Budget Pistols’ That Won’t Ever Jam

5 Durable ‘Budget Pistols’ That Won’t Ever Jam

Smith and Wesson SD9. Image source:

A few years ago when one said the words “cheap” and “handgun” in the same sentence, you were obviously talking about a Jennings, a Hi-Point or an AMT. To be fair, AMT makes a great little concealed carry handgun, albeit mostly in .380. Hi-Point’s firearms are functional but unattractive. Jennings — I can always count on a Jennings. That is, I can always count on a Jennings to jam on every single magazine.

Cheap pistols have come a long way over the past couple of decades. Foreign and domestic manufactures have really put the effort into producing cost-efficient and highly reliable handguns for the masses.

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Not everyone can spend the coinage it takes to buy a nice Kimber 1911, a SIG or even a Glock. Granted, I carry a Glock and swear by them along with my S&Ws and Colts, but there are some newer handguns, mostly imports along with two offerings from Smith and Wesson, that should make us all take a double look.

And while the cheapest handgun is about $100 more than a Hi-Point, it is worth saving up a bit more so one does not have to carry that awkward brick that Hi-Point produces.

1. Smith and Wesson SD9/40. Smith and Wesson designed and built an excellent Glock, er, handgun when it came out with the SD9/40. Truth is the SD9/40 is constructed so similarly to a Glock handgun, breaks down and handles just like a Glock, you would think you were firing a Glock. In fact, I compared an SD9 side by side with my Glock 19, and but for the trigger and a few other design differences, the SD is a Glock with a Smith and Wesson stamp on it.

A close friend of mine traded a beat-up dirt bike for one, and we took it to the range. The guy he traded it with had only run a box of FMJs through the handgun and it looked brand new. We fired close to 300 rounds through it without a single failure. Those rounds included nasty Russian steel ammo, FMJs, JHPs, aluminum – and everything fed.

Price: Around $320

2. Rock Island GI Model 1911. After battling Moro tribesmen in the Philippines, the US Military realized it needed a stouter handgun as opposed to the .38 revolvers. The result, to make a long story short, was the adaption of the .45ACP cartridge and the M1911 handgun. Now, you can’t get much more iconic in an American handgun than a 1911. Today, some of the best entry-level 1911s come from, surprise, the Philippines. The same country that brought about its development is now sending thousands of 1911 handguns to our shores for civilian shooters to enjoy.

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Rock Island’s 1911 GI model is sure not going to be voted the most beautiful 1911 of the year, but it is built to be functional. And functional it is. I have shot everything from simple FMJs to Golden Sabers through these handguns and have had almost no issues, besides the break in period. Accuracy is acceptable for a GI model, and the price can’t be beat for an entry-level 1911.

Price: $450

3. Grand Power P1 Mk7. Imported by Century Arms International, the Grand Power P1 Mk7 is made in Slovakia, and is the shorter version of the standard sidearm of the Slovakian military. The Grand Power has high marks for accuracy and reliability. After all, it is a current standard sidearm, and has a mean rounds-before-failure of 20,000. It is a bit heavier than most handguns out there, but it is well put together and affordable.

I have seen these guns shoot in access of 500 rounds, with no failure. In fact I have never seen these things fail.

Price: $399

5 Durable ‘Budget Pistols’ That Won’t Ever Jam

Canik TP-9SA 9mm. Image source:

4. Canik TP-9SA 9mm. Die-hard James Bond fans will remember that in the mid-90s, Pierce Brosnan’s Bond retired the character’s iconic Walther PPK. The replacement for the classic-but-underpowered PPK for Bond was the new Walther P99, a polymer pistol. The P99 is a great handgun, employing the NATO 9mm cartridge. It even has a de-cocker for people who like those sort of things. The nation of Turkey liked the handgun so much, it adopted it and started producing it for its military. Century Arms today imports these guns and sells them for cheap.

The Canik is a great little gun and is very reliable. They are starting to develop quite a following here in the States, and it is well-deserved. Century now offers magazines and accessories for these great handguns.

Price: Around $300

5. Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm. My wife carries one of these for her daily carry. The M&P shield is a great little carry gun with excellent reliability. It is ideal for women and smaller-framed shooters. I have yet to see one have a failure to feed or eject, and build quality is excellent.

Price: Around $369

What gun would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:

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  1. In the article by Zack Dunn titled “5 durable budget pistols that won’t ever jam”, I thought Mr. Dunn was bias. Hi- point, though it is a “brick”, and is “unattractive”, is very reliable and is as you put it “cheap”. which fit the title of the article to a “t”. It wasn’t named the attractive pistols that are within a somewhat modest budget. I’d put a Hi- point up against any of those others, and if you could be completely objective, you’d find I’m right!!

    • I own a Hi Point .45 and consider it to be one of the most accurate handguns I have. Yes it is ugly, but as an at home backup I love it. Doubles as a club if you run out of ammo. Stay prepared my friends.

      • It should be accurate, it’s barrel and frame are one piece construction without a free floating barrel. While accuracy has never been an issue with these firearms
        ” I’ve shot them, and agree, it’s a tack hammer” working in the firearms industry I can tell you as brand they have a high failure rate, and break much more commonly than the listed “durable” budget firearms. Gunsmiths shops love the sale of high points because they have a customer for life.

        • I’d like to see the data on the “high failure rate” of HiPoints. I believe that is an absolute myth. I own two and shoot the crap out of them. They never jam and they have never broken or failed in any way. I’ve heard many other HiPoint owners state the same. Look on Youtube for the torture tests where they run over them, beat them with hammers, etc and they just keep shooting.
          Yes, they are ugly and heavy. However, the weight improves the reliability if anything. The weight also makes them extremely comfortable to shoot. My C9 has virtually no recoil. I can shoot it all day. Not true of lightweight CC pistols like my Kel-Tec PF-9. After shooting one or two magazines through it, I’ve had enough.

    • Dear hi point owners,
      After owning 7 different hipoint arms products and shooting several more that friends have owned(perks of being a lower wage job holder) I can tell you that they make pretty fair carbines with great regularity. Their pistols how ever are like a Ford Taurus, once in a great while you get a good one that’s usable, but it’s closer to 1-8 with the others being excellent paper weights. The 45acp version seems to do a little better but not much

  2. Interesting.

    But try any semi auto by dropping it in the mud, dirt or sand and try shooting 2,000 rounds through it without cleaning it and see if you still can make the same claim.

    • To Bill: . . . Watch the Glock torture test where they dip a Glock in a bucket of sand and water, stirring it up with the G17 and then fire it with no hang ups. . . They also bury it in mud, freese it, and run over it with a truck and it STILL worked without so much as a hiccup. . . Don’t get me wrong, I still say a good old revolver is hard to beat and is the most foolproof, but (some) sem-auto’s have come a long way. . .Other semi-autos, not so much !

  3. I would like to know about a ruger 9mm made from carbon fiber holds 8 shots fits in your front pocket I think it was 14oz unloaded

  4. I have 2 FMK’s. 9mm & 40Cal. The simplest pistols to handle and operate. Around 370.00. Depending on the dealer. No failures, very accurate, made in America. Feels good in hand and easy to clean. Only gripe is 10 round mags. I found my “cheap” guns.

  5. i just got a SCCY 9 mm and really like it. Especially the price 🙂

  6. The hi-point does have an extremely high fail rate. From another person who works in the firearms industry, has a military background, holds an FFL and has more firearms than most people can count to. More hi-points are returned for repair and issues than any other gun commonly sold. Yes it’s cheap, and there is definitely a good reason for that. Spend a few extra bucks and get something more reliable. FYI the “torture tests” on YouTube aren’t always what they appear…. anyone who knows anything about firearms can tell you Hi-points can’t be trusted, and unfortunately they are produced about 20 minutes from me. We are highly embarrassed.

    • Have you ever owned one? And please show statistics to back up your claim “they are returned for repair more than any other gun”. The vast majority of reviews by people who own these pistols are positive so I would really like to know where you are getting your information from.

  7. Sarsilmaz makes some awesome handguns. I carry a K2P with me every day, and have owned a B6P, K2-45, and a CM9. They’re imported by EAA, and run around $250. I love the look of the Sargun, and throughout my ownership of them, I’ve only had 1 FTF in 5,500 rounds, and that was because I forgot to insert the magazine…

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