There are plenty of concealed carry guns out there, but not everyone's budget is the same. Some people don't have the disposable income (or willingness to go into credit card debt) that allows them to spend $1,000 on a handgun.
Others would insist blowing that much on a handgun is just ridiculous, unless it was a firearm a person was personally purchasing to use in the line of duty.
What, then, is the budget-conscious concealed carrier to do? Find a good gun for less, of course! As it happens, there are a number of not only serviceable, but excellent concealed carry guns that can be acquired for $400 or less. Bear in mind, though, that a few list for more but are very commonly found for less than $400 in stores. Here are 5 such pistols.
The Bersa Thunder .380, for those unaware, is a Walther PPK clone. Though it's not an exact copy, it's incredibly close. For those also unaware, the the PPK is one of the most popular and enduring CCW pistol designs in existence, having been in production since 1929.
But the .380 isn't a 9mm, you might object. No, it's not, but a subcompact pistol is meant to be used up close and personal, and the .380 Auto cartridge is very serviceable with the right load at close range.
This pistol uses a DA/SA mechanism, so it will require one to learn the intricacies of the double-action trigger system. The safety is a pin block/decocker, so cocked and locked carry won't be possible. That said, it's a proven design and a very popular deep concealment pistol. They're in most gun stores and the Matte Finish model, the most basic of them all, can be had quite frequently for $250 or less. If that isn't a slam dunk...nothing is
Okay, so the Shield has an MSRP of $449, but there are darn few stores in which you'll pay more than $400 for one. Even if you did...that wouldn't be so bad, as the Shield is practically the Honda Civic of carry pistols. It's a subcompact single-stack poly striker gun, offered in 9mm, .40 and .45 ACP.
However, the Shield is also known for shooting manners that belie the lightweight and compact dimensions. These attributes, plus the reasonable price and ridiculous aftermarket support, make the M&P Shield one of the best concealed carry pistols at any price point, let alone for less than $400.
There are some people who swear by a snubnose revolver, and a budget snubbie to keep an eye out for is the Taurus 85. The Brazilian firm does have semi-autos available as well, but it's the revolver line that most people are aware of. The 85 is the most popular of their snubbies. MSRP is $356, but finding one for $300 or less is not going to be a challenge in the least.
For that, you get the greatest hits of snub .38s. Five shots of .38 Special, and the pistol is rated for +P - though Taurus recommends not feeding it a steady diet of hot loads. Rubber grips and your choice of blue or stainless finish are standard. Some models have a party trick - the hammer spur can be removed if desired, which will make for a snag-free draw...though it also makes the gun DAO, which some shooters find taxing. Since it has virtually the same dimensions as the S&W J-frame, accessories aren't going to be a problem.
Amenities are few - you get a blade front sight and trench rear sight machined into the top strap. However, it's a no-nonsense snub .38 for a very reasonable price. You might be able to find a J-frame for just under $400, if you find the right shop...but ANY shop will have an 85 for far less.
The EAA Witness Pavona Compact - actually made by Tanfoglio in Italy; EAA just imports them - is a compact CZ-75 clone with a polymer frame. Despite the "compact" tag, it's still a bit on the large side, sitting at 1.4 inches wide, 4.5 inches tall and 7.3 inches long, and weighing in at around 30 ounces.
Chamberings include .380, 9mm and .40 S&W; capacity is 13 rounds of .380 or 9, or 9 rounds of .40. MSRP is $415, but you shouldn't have a problem finding one for closer to $350...or less. Aftermarket support - including holsters - isn't astounding but far from nonexistent.
Why consider this Italian import? Tanfoglios are known for outshooting guns three times their price, and the Pavona compact is no exception. You also get the attributes that CZ fans have been raving about for years - outstanding ergonomics, intuitive point-of-aim, low bore axis and tight lockup for crazy accuracy and the CZ-style double/single action firing system, which employs a manual safety for cocked and locked carry.
However, you aren't likely to find a compact double-stack that shoots as well for the price. You may have to hunt for one in stores, but online purchase and shipping to the FFL of your choice is very easily done.
The Ruger LCP, a DAO polymer-framed micro .380, is one of the most popular guns of it's type on the market. MSRP is a scant $259 and they are available basically anywhere, so it's not like you won't ever find one.
The LCP is a bare-bones pocket rocket. Features are few - you get 6+1 rounds of .380, fixed sights and that's about it. Aside from a firing pin block drop safety, the only safety system is a long, hard DAO trigger pull.
However, if you want a bit more in features, there is an improved model - the LCP II. The LCP II has the same capacity and chambering, but has a larger grip for better purchase, deeper stipling on the slide for better grip, improved sights and a striker-fired mechanism and lighter trigger. The improvements bring MSRP to $349.
Which you prefer is up to you. Some people prefer the long DAO trigger as an additional passive safety mechanism, some people prefer a lighter trigger pull. Some people think sights on a tiny gun are a waste; these are for close-in work and some reckon point shooting is better at pocket gun distances. However, this is all up to the buyer/carrier to decide for themselves.
Neither the LCP nor the LCP II is going to win any IPSC matches, as they are mouse guns...but if you want a solid working pistol for deep concealment, either would be a great choice.