Best Handguns Under $500

Kahr ST9 pistol left profile

One evening, Grayson H. and five of his friends decided they wanted to go catch a 7 p.m. movie at the Central Mall in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The mall was overly crowded, so they parked about 100 yards from the door and walked to the ticket counter.

Before the movie started, the group decided to go back to their vehicles, since they had a little time to waste before the movie began.

Mike Seekander teaches a student the right way to improve shooting skills.
Mike Seeklander is owner of Shooting-Performance LLC, a full-service training company, and the co-host of “The Best Defense,” the Outdoor Channel’s leading self-defense and firearms instruction show.

One of the friends in the group, Tabitha, was going through a difficult divorce and the group of friends was looking forward to a fun evening to cheer her up. However, while the group was standing in the parking lot waiting for the movie to start, Grayson noticed that Tabitha’s ex-husband was driving around.

Before Grayson knew it, Tabitha’s ex had jumped out of his vehicle and was walking toward the group. The ex, identified as 34-year-old Fadi Qandil pulled a gun from his waistband and fired multiple shots at Tabitha missing her.

Grayson saved Tabitha by pushing her out of the way, but he was hit by the gunfire and fell to the ground. Immediately, Grayson pulled out his own gun, a Smith & Wesson, and returned fire striking and killing Qandil. Grayson made a full recovery from his wounds.

Obviously, Grayson saved lives that day and while he carried a Smith & Wesson, which is a great gun, it’s definitely not the most expensive gun on the market.

I hear from a few folks that think guns are too expensive these days, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality gun.

Here are some solid handguns on the market that are under $500.

SIG Sauer P250

SIG P250 pistol, left profile
Normally, SIG Sauer firearms aren’t put into the “inexpensive” category. Their finely tuned construction and impeccable accuracy are more akin to a Swiss watch than they are a cheap handgun.

Believe it or not, SIG Sauer manufactures a handgun for less than $500, which is an incredible value for a high-quality gun and one of my personal favorite guns to carry.

The P250 is a double-action-only pistol with a modular system that gives the shooter the option to change to different calibers, barrel lengths, and grip sizes.

The P250 can be purchased in 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and .380 ACP.

The price will depend on the specific options you choose but this is a great value for a gun under $500.

Walther Creed

Walther Creed 9mm pistol right with a spare magazine and boxes of ammunition
The old PPX was blocky. The new Creed overhauls the PPX design into a sleeker sexier design.

This is a relatively new pistol from Walther, designed to meet the demands of folks wanting a decent entry-level gun without breaking the bank.

The Creed was designed with comfortable ergonomics and a high-quality trigger that is typically featured on much more expensive guns.

In addition, in the 9mm you get 16+1 rounds, which is a great number for a compact 9mm.

The Creed starts around $400, and I love to carry this gun.

Smith & Wesson SD9VE

Smith and Wesson SD9VE pistol right profile
Smith & Wesson is known for it’s long tradition of making quality firearms including both revolvers and semi-automatics.

Smith & Wesson is known for its long tradition of making quality firearms including both revolvers and semi-automatics.

The SD9VE is a polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm pistol with a magazine capacity of 16 rounds.

The thing is, this firearm has been around since the 1990s and legend has it that the company spent millions of dollars researching the shape of the human hand to create the best grip and shape of the pistol.

The upshot? For around $400 you get a solid handgun.

Canik TP9

Canik TP9SF Elite S pistol left
The TP9 SF is a handsome pistol, but you’ll want it for the price and performance!

Canik is a Turkish company that broke into the U.S. market with its poly-frame striker that is extremely accurate and reliable.

One of the biggest advantages to this firearm is that you can easily purchase aftermarket accessories to upgrade or replace any parts.

Plus, with Canik’s TP9, you get a 9mm with an 18+1 capacity for around $350. I own this gun and it’s never given me any issues.

Kahr ST9

Kahr ST9 pistol left profile
Like all Kahr handguns, the ST9 is an excellent American-made pistol that is reliable, durable, and accurate.

The Kahr Arms ST9 is an ideal choice for concealed carry and those looking for maximum stopping power and ultra concealment with all the features of a tactical pistol. The Kahr Arms ST9 offers enhanced grip texturing, with an integral accessory rail and an enhanced magwell for speed and efficiency. Like all Kahr handguns, it’s an excellent American-made pistol that is reliable, durable, and accurate. This version has a stainless steel slide with front and rear serration for ease of operation and 3-dot combat sights to get you on target quickly. If you are looking for the ultimate in concealed carry, the Kahr Arms ST9 may be the EDC pistol you have been searching for.

The sleek-looking, two-tone, ST9 carries an MSRP of $456.

Do you have a favorite handgun for under $500 that should have made this list? Make your best case in the comment section.

Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, visit

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (48)

  1. I too really like the PT111 from Taurus. Own two and they both run flawlessly. For around $200 you can get both and some Sig p226 mags for extra capacity and still be under $500. ( Sig mags are perfect fit and have only had one malfunction in that the 18 round I have failed to lock open slide on empty once. +1000 rounds through mine.

    1. I had a PT 111 for years and wore it out. Never a misfire or a jam, which is amazing to me. Great little weapon.

  2. Just bought the new Taurus G2C, like it more than the small Glocks, because it has a frame mounted safety & is just as small for concealed carry. Taurus has a winner on its hands with little gem in the $200 price range. I may buy the other model also with the s/s slide.

  3. I have a Ruger P89 that I wouldn’t trade for any of the firearms mentioned here. Yes it’s a tank. It’s also gone bang every time it’s been used . That’s near 30 years now. Yes I do use it for CC. Mostly in the colder months, The newest and latest/greatest isn’t always the best but to each their own.

    1. Springfield XDS .45 pistols in both 4.0 and 3.3 configurations, have served me WELL. I wouldn’t have any other brand for the money. Gear-Up promotions at the time of purchase in 2017 did persuade my decision,
      but unbeatable for the price.

    2. These glowing reviews of the P89, I don’t get it? Must’ve bought a lemon, mine had fte/ftf failures at least once every mag! I tried several different ammo types, same results. (…bought new in ’98)

  4. The review seems to focus on full size, so Glock has models likely @ $500 for the holidays, and the Sig P320 prices there along with Beretfa 92 DAO. As with a previous comment, for economic and compact concealed, there are a bunch. I like Taurus PT111 G2 9mm @ ~ $200 + add night sights & Sig 15 rnd mags and for a .9″ thick single stack, the Ruger LC9P @ ~$260 + add night sights and 10 rnd mags. Both are reliable, accurate, and handle +P, though I can’t work them well past about 40′. The Ruger has a nice trigger out of box, The Taurus trigger shapes up well with some polishing.

    1. I carry a Sig SP2022 in .40 S&W.
      It is also a full size pistol.

      For easier concealment in warmer weather without much cover garment I carry a Bersa Pro Thunder also in .40 S&W.

      Both are single/double action with a decocker.

    2. The sig p2022 is actually considered a compact. I used to own one of it’s predecessors, the p2340. An awesome gun. Sorry

    3. I too carry the PT111 G2 and love for its capacity and weight. I carry on my Harley and find it very comfortable on long rides.

    4. On the G2, I purchased a couple. On one after about 50 standard rounds, the mainspring came through the front of the slide. Yow!
      I love the gun, super accurate and great all around shooter, but I cant trust one for EDC.

  5. I think the Steyr C9-A1 in 9mm is the best pistol under $500. I have three of them. I also have four 9mm Sigs: two P320s and two P365s. The Steyr is the most dependable, most accurate, and the best grip of any pistol I have ever fired. The Austrian made Steyr was designed by the same person who designed the Glock and is far superior to the Glocks (IMO and personal experience). The C9-A1 17+1 can also be used for concealed carry.

    1. My youngest stepson bought one several months ago and it’s a great shooting pistol that fits and handles beautifully. Ergonomics are excellent. The trapazoid sights are a bit to get used to but it is extremely accurate. I probably would have bought the Steyr before I bought my subcompact Sig 320.

  6. For a few dollars more I think I’ll stick with the Springfield XD’s, or the Argentine FN 9mm (Browning HiPower clone) But I understand this nitch well enough and would be pleased to carry any of these in a pinch! I confess that the Sig 250 in not a Sig that I like and I’d have to put it on the bottom of this list. I’d suggest that divorce sales and second hand firearms are also not to be overlooked in the aqusition of inexpensive but excellent firearms.

  7. Why are you people posting all this irrelevant notices when our gun rights are being attacked and destroyed by the new democratic Congress???

  8. I have the Smith & Wesson SD9VE and I like it. I paid $279.99. However, I bought a Taurus PT111 G2 for $199.99 that I prefer. I find I am more accurate with it and it conceals better with the slightly shorter barrel. Neither have had any malfunctions of any kind.

    1. I agree on pt111, I own one and absolutely love the little pistol. It’s more accurate than I am and has never failed to cycle or function with any ammo I’ve thrown at it, from cheap aluminum cased factory loads to the hottest hollow point reloads. I don’t know if they are all as good as mine, but you can’t ask for anything more.

  9. I like Sigs but not the 250

    I bought a Beretta APX Combat for $500 net after the Beretta rebate and it’s got a threaded barrel for compensator or suppressor and is optics ready

  10. I have a fondness for the Taurus PT92, which can be purchase new for under $500, used even less expensive. The PT 1911 is right at $500, but used a bi less expensive. Bothe excellent firearms..

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