The choice of handguns for personal and home protection is huge, with numerous manufacturers offering a wide variety of weapon styles and calibers. Prices also vary quite dramatically.
Those who are looking to purchase a pistol will certainly find ones within their available budget. However, in this review, we will look at a specific price point and the best handguns for under $500.
Rest assured, there is a good choice in this category. We review eight models that fit very well into this price range. We will also take a look at some important considerations to bear in mind before making this all-important purchase.
So, let’s get started with a top-quality weapon from a highly respected manufacturer…
- 1 Top 8 Best Handguns for Under $500 in 2023 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Smith & Wesson – M&P Shield 40S&W BLK 3.1″- Best Lightweight Handgun for Under $500
- 1.2 2 Bersa Thunder Plus 380ACP 15RD 3.5″ Pistol – Best High Capacity Handgun for Under $500
- 1.3 3 Ruger LCP II .380 ACP Pistol – 3758 – Most Durable Handgun for Under $500
- 1.4 4 Springfield XD Defenders Series 9mm 3″ Pistol – Best Subcompact Handgun for Under $500
- 1.5 5 Kahr Arms CM9 – Best Quality Handgun for Under $500
- 1.6 6 Taurus 66 Medium .357 MAG/.38 SPL +P Revolver – Best Home Defense Handgun for Under $500
- 1.7 7 Walther PPS M2 9mm LE Edition Pistol – 2807696 – Best Value Handgun for Under $500
- 1.8 8 SCCY CPX-2 – Best Conceal Carry Handgun for Under $500
- 2 Best Handguns for Under $500 Buyers Guide – What you should look for in a Handgun?
- 3 So, what are the Best Handguns for Under $500?
Top 8 Best Handguns for Under $500 in 2023 Reviews
1 Smith & Wesson – M&P Shield 40S&W BLK 3.1″- Best Lightweight Handgun for Under $500
The M&P family of handguns from Smith & Wesson has gained rave reviews from users. When it comes to popularity, the Shield is right up there with the best handguns for under $500.
The M&P (Military & Police) Shield handgun follows this tradition. It is the company’s lightest and slimmest semi-automatic handgun released to date.
Proven compact capability…
Anyone looking for a compact, durable weapon is in the right place with this model. The pistol has a plain muzzle, a stock made from robust polymer, and is finished in black.
It measures in at 6.1-inches in length, which includes the 3.1-inch barrel. Weight-wise, it comes in at 1.19-lbs (19.04-ounces). Chambered in .40 S&W, the Shield has a capacity of 6+1 rounds. You also get 2 x 6-round magazines with your purchase.
Concealed carry, consistent reliability…
This striker-fired handgun is highly reliable and will function time and again. It has fixed front and rear sights as well as a low bore axis. Add this to the 18-degree grip angle, and shooting the gun is made easy. This is seen through the natural sight picture, which helps shooters instinctively acquire their chosen target.
When it comes to firing the Shield, this can be carried out with confidence. It offers a consistent trigger pull and short trigger reset.
But what does this mean for you?
Such consistency will increase confidence, enhance accuracy, and allow for rapid follow-up shots.
It’s dimensions, and lightweight design make the M&P Shield an ideal handgun for EDC (Every Day Carry). You can also be assured that ease of concealment really is yours.
Ease of maintenance…
Whichever weapon(s) you own, regular cleaning and maintenance is essential. The Shield makes the process extremely easy.
This is because the weapon has a no-tool takedown system. It comes with a quality steel recoil-spring rod for added durability, and the captured spring works to increase the speed at which takedown for cleaning and maintenance can be completed.
- Highly respected manufacturer.
- Very popular handgun model.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Ease of concealed carry.
- Tool-less takedown system.
2 Bersa Thunder Plus 380ACP 15RD 3.5″ Pistol – Best High Capacity Handgun for Under $500
We continue with a well-received handgun from Bersa, their Thunder Plus pistol. It has a similar weight to the S&W M&P Shield we just reviewed but offers greater capacity.
Built to last…
The Thunder Plus is part of the Thunder series of firearms from Bersa. It comes in a variety of styles and colors. The one we are looking at is finished in Duo-tone.
Made with a robust alloy frame and steel slide, this gives the weapon strength coupled with good balance. Its overall length is 6.6-inches, which includes the 3.5-inch barrel, and it weighs in at 1.25-lbs (20-ounces).
Chambered in .380ACP, the Thunder Plus offers an excellent capacity of 15+1-rounds and comes with one 15-round magazine. Sixteen rounds should be more than enough for anyone in an emergency situation. This capacity also means less reloading when at the range.
Consistency, safety, accuracy, and ambidextrous use…
Coming with fixed 3-dot sights, shooters will also find the rubber grips offer an acceptably firm hold when drawing and aiming the gun. In terms of safety, the Thunder Plus has an integral locking system along with firing pin and manual safety functionality.
It is good for both right and left-handed shooters and has an ambidextrous magazine catch. You will also find this handgun can be concealed with ease to ensure reasonably comfortable all-day carry.
- High capacity.
- Safety mechanisms.
- Acceptably lightweight
- Ambidextrous use.
- Concealed carry can be achieved.
- 3-dot sights.
- The grip could be of a better design.
3 Ruger LCP II .380 ACP Pistol – 3758 – Most Durable Handgun for Under $500
Anyone looking for the best handguns for under $500 with laser sight will be very interested in this Ruger model.
Value is all-important, and Ruger certainly offers this with their LCP II .380 ACP pistol. Also, ease of concealed carry is most certainly yours.
It has a barrel length of 2.75-inches included in its overall length of 5.17-inches and a height of 3.71-inches. The gun has a capacity of 6+1 rounds. One magazine is included in the purchase.
Ruger has upgraded the sights on this model to include a Viridian E-Series Red Laser (635-650 nm). Shooters will quickly grasp the fact that this laser affords them superior visibility. In terms of consistent shooting, once the smooth trigger pull is mastered, accuracy will be yours.
Highly concealable, built to last…
For the price offered, you will find the LCP II design is of rugged construction. This comes in the form of a high-performance, glass-filled nylon grip frame and hardened steel slide.
Concealability does not come much better. This gun will provide shooters with an everyday carry weapon that stays anonymous while they go about their daily business. In terms of range, it is highly effective for close-range shooting and out to 25 yards.
This is a reliable and smooth shooting pistol that comes in at an acceptable price for what is offered.
- Durable design that is built to last.
- Very easy to conceal.
- Included laser sight.
- Good choice of holsters to match.
- Smooth trigger pull.
- Only one magazine is included.
4 Springfield XD Defenders Series 9mm 3″ Pistol – Best Subcompact Handgun for Under $500
The Springfield XD Defenders Series of handguns offer serious shooting ability.
A compact pistol that packs a punch…
This model makes for very good concealed carry yet packs a punch to be noticed. This is thanks to its 9mm caliber and excellent capacity.
Weighing in at 1.625-lbs (26-ounces), it has a barrel length of 3-inches included in its overall 6.25-inch length. It is 4.75-inches high, 1.2-inches in width, and has a capacity of 13+1 rounds. This pistol comes with flush-fitting magazines and also accepts full-sized XD Magazines.
Due to its size, this gun is classed as a sub-compact. However, it still offers all of the features you will find on Springfield’s standard XD line.
Ease of use and safe to handle…
As with all other models in the XD line, this offers ease of use along with safe handling. Included features show this very clearly. Here are five that are worthy of note:
- A striker status indicator.
- Loaded chamber indicator.
- Grip safety.
- USA (Ultra Safety Assurance) Action trigger system.
- Internal firing pin block.
When considering robust, durable use, this pistol delivers. As with all XD models, the Defender comes with a polymer frame and melonite metal finish.
What is the grip safety all about?
The pistol does not come with a manual safety feature found on many handguns. What it does offer is a passive grip safety. Your weapon will remain safe until you wrap your hand around the grip. This action works to release the safety, and the gun is ready to be fired.
- Durable and reliable.
- Packs a powerful punch.
- Good capacity.
- Conceal with ease.
- Grip safety feature.
- Smooth shooting.
5 Kahr Arms CM9 – Best Quality Handgun for Under $500
For our next review, we stick with a 9mm handgun that comes from another highly reputable manufacturer, the Kahr Arms CM9.
Quality build, with a choice of barrel sizes…
The CM pistol family from Kahr Arms has been built to last. It consists of a polymer frame and a 416 stainless steel slide with a matte finish to ensure robust and durable use. You have a choice of three barrel sizes that come in at 3, 3.1, or 3.25-inches in length.
We will be looking at the shortest barrel version (Model no. CM9093). However, you can rest assured that all models offer the same quality and functionality.
Robust and durable, yet still lightweight…
This highly robust and durable semi-automatic pistol is chambered in 9×19 caliber. Its overall length is 5.42-inches, which includes the 3.0-inch conventional rifled barrel. Height and width come in at 4.0-inches and .9-inches, respectively.
Carrying this weapon will certainly not weigh you down. It weighs in at just 14-ounces and has a rounds-capacity of 6+1. With your purchase, you get one stainless steel magazine (with a flush baseplate). When attached, this will add another 1.9-ounces to the total weight.
With the above-mentioned dimensions, it is easy to understand just how concealable this DAO (Double Action Only) handgun is. It also affords shooters reasonable accuracy. This is seen through the textured polymer grips that ensure a steady weapon hold and the included sights. The front sight is pinned in polymer design, and the rear is a drift adjustable white bar-dot combat sight.
The Kahr engineers know how to build original weapons. Seven patents are included in the CM9093 design. Here’s a snapshot of just three of them:
Firstly, 4140 steel inserts are molded into the front and back of the black polymer frame to enhance strength and rigidity. Fire as many rounds as you please, and as often as you please, the CM9 will come back for more.
Secondly, the cocking cam trigger system uses a patented cam. This functions in two ways: First, it unlocks the firing pin block. This is known as a passive safety function. Secondly, it allows complete cocking and release of the firing pin.
What benefits do shooters gain?
This combination offers a safe-cam action as well as a very smooth DAO trigger stroke. This means that if you find yourself in a defensive situation, it is fast to fire.
And finally, after firing the last round, the slide locks back. This is a feature that is often missing on other handguns that go for under $500.
When it comes to cost against build, accuracy, and reliability, the Kahr Arms CM9 is a very sound choice.
- Quality build.
- Robust, long-lasting.
- Seven Patented features are included.
- EDC (Every Day Carry)/Concealed carry made easy.
- Aesthetically it is not the most attractive.
6 Taurus 66 Medium .357 MAG/.38 SPL +P Revolver – Best Home Defense Handgun for Under $500
This revolver from Taurus must be seen as excellent value when it comes to the top handguns for under $500.
Looking for real power?
Taurus has worked hard to build its reputation in the handgun world. Their 66 Model is one that promises real stopping power. This Single/Double action handgun offers the choices of .357 Magnum or .38 Special +P ammo and guarantees effective and hard-hitting shots.
It has a 6-inch barrel in its overall 12.25-inch overall length, is 5.7-inches in height, and 1.5 inches wide. As well as its larger dimensions, you will note the significant weight difference over previously reviewed models. This comes in at 2.5-lbs (40-ounces).
While it is possible to conceal carry, many would view this as an ideal home defense weapon. This weapon will surely halt any intruders.
Efficient ease of use…
This Taurus model is good for beginners and experienced users alike. It is very easy to operate, and the rubber grips fit comfortably for most hand sizes. The revolver has a 7-round capacity and comes with a fixed front sight along with a target adjustable rear sight to assist with accuracy.
You can opt for either a single-action or a double-action trigger operation, and safety is yours. This is due to the included transfer bar safety feature that comes with an integrated lock system.
What does this mean to you?
It means the revolver will not fire unless the trigger is pulled.
- Easy to load and easy to use.
- Safety features.
- Excellent stopping power.
- Good choice for home defense.
- Very keen price.
- Dimensions make concealed carry too big for some.
- Heavy trigger pull in double-action mode.
7 Walther PPS M2 9mm LE Edition Pistol – 2807696 – Best Value Handgun for Under $500
You may have been surprised at some of the handguns that are available in the price bracket of this review, but this best value for the money handguns for under $500 is the most surprising.
Walther is a long-established and prestigious weapon manufacturer. Their guns generally come in well over the $500 price bracket. Not this model! Their PPS M2 9mm LE Edition pistol is within our price bracket and even comes with night sights.
Style and quality are yours…
This quality compact handgun maintains the stylish design expected from a renowned manufacturer. It has a slim profile, a very accessible and easy to use push-button magazine release, and a smooth trigger pull.
Add the attractive and eye-catching Walther signature design with functionality to please, and you have a handgun worthy of attention.
A good choice for EDC…
Anyone looking for a quality EDC (Every Day Carry) pistol will appreciate the features this handgun offers. Coming in at 1-inch wide, it is 6.3-inches in overall length. This includes the top quality 3.18-inch polygonal rifling barrel.
Trigger travel is .2-inches with a trigger pull weight of 6.1-lbs. This 9mm caliber handgun offers a choice of six, seven, or rounds and comes with three included magazines. The handgun height depends on the round capacity chosen. This comes in at 4.4, 4.9, or 5.3-inches, respectively. Its empty weight is 1.31-lbs (21.1-ounces).
So, let’s take a look at just some of the features offered…
- Built to last a long time
Tenifer coating has been applied to the slide and barrel. This means it is corrosion resistant and designed to last a long time. The matte finish adds to the stylish looks of this quality handgun.
The M2 has phosphoric, 3-dot polymer sights. These give shooters a day and night advantage through rapid aiming and target acquisition. The rear sight screw makes windage adjustability easy, and the low profile sight configuration means no snagging on clothes.
- Slide serrations
The distinctive Walther styling shows front and rear slide serrations that offer shooters a non-slip surface when operating the slide.
The Smoothlight trigger is designed for short trigger travel and reset. Its feel will aid confidence and accuracy and allow for rapid, accurate follow-up shots.
- Comfortable grip
A non-slip, cross-directional grip surface means its shape makes for comfortable handling and tighter control. Even those with smaller hands should find this very easy to operate.
- Magazine choice
You get three magazine options. These are ‘Flat’ for concealment, ‘Mid’ for comfort, and ‘Large’ for additional capacity. Shooters will also find a conveniently positioned magazine release feature that has been positioned for thumb operation.
- Other features
There is a red cocking indicator that gives both a visible and tactile status for lowlight use. A loaded chamber viewport to ensure quick status inspection and a slide stop that locks back when empty. This feature is extended to allow for ease of operation, even if wearing gloves.
Finally, you get a manual safety feature. This functions by blocking the firing pin to ensure the safe handling of the weapon.
All-in-all, this is a very good handgun from a quality manufacturer. Reliability, accuracy, and good looks are yours at an acceptable price.
- Highly respected manufacturer.
- Stylish, attractive design.
- Feature-filled yet easy to use.
- Durable and reliable.
- Choice of magazines and capacity.
- Good for EDC carry.
- Lifetime warranty to the original owner.
- Touching the top of the $500 price point.
8 SCCY CPX-2 – Best Conceal Carry Handgun for Under $500
Our final review of the best quality handguns for under $500 offers excellent value. It is the SCCY Industries CPX-2 model.
Quality made in the USA…
SCCY Industries is committed to manufacturing quality weapons from their Daytona Beach, Florida facility. The CPX-2 comes in a variety of color finishes. All offer the same quality specs.
This double-action pistol is a 9mm Luger caliber and has a 10+1-round capacity. Included in your purchase are two 10-round double-stack magazines that have finger extension bases installed and two additional flat magazine bases.
Built to last, made for concealed carry…
The CPX-2 has a receiver made from a quality 7075 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy that is machined from bar stock. The frame and grip are made from Zytel polymer and come complete with ergonomic finger grooves. As for the slide, this is of black nitride stainless steel manufacture.
The 1:16 right-hand twist barrel is also machined from bar stock and has seven lands and grooves. The quality material and design processes employed by SCCY show that this weapon is built to last a long time.
In terms of dimensions…
It has a 3.1-inch barrel in its overall 5.7-inch length. Height and width-wise, it is 4-inches and 1.26-inches respectively and weighs in at 17.5-ounces. This makes for an acceptably concealable pistol.
The double-action trigger has a consistent pull of 9-lbs. This may seem a little heavy for some at-first. However, once owners get used to it, regulated accuracy will be found.
Thoughtful safety features…
Safety design features are well thought out.
- Hammer firing system
As mentioned, this pistol is double-action-only and has an internal hammer complete with an internal firing pin. This prevents any accidental discharge if the weapon is dropped.
- Trigger lock
The trigger lock has been custom designed to ensure correct fitting and be child-resistant. You get two keys included with purchase.
- Guard safety
SCCY has integrated a newly designed manual guarded safety with the guard molded into the weapon’s frame.
Good accuracy, with reduced recoil…
The compact 3.1-inch barrel has a 3-dot sight system. This includes the rear sight, which is windage adjustable and comes with a locking screw. The already mentioned polymer frame and grip have ergonomic finger grooves as well as an integral backstrap recoil cushion.
In terms of disassembly and reassembly, this is also made easy thanks to the all-steel, fully encapsulated recoil system design.
- Quality made in the USA.
- Built to last due to the durable materials used.
- Ease of use.
- Good for all levels of experience
- Conceal carry is easily achievable.
- Solid safety features.
- Value for the price offered.
- Trigger pull takes getting used to.
Best Handguns for Under $500 Buyers Guide – What you should look for in a Handgun?
Here are some important factors to consider before purchasing a handgun. Tick these points off while comparing them against our top chosen handguns for under $500 to make an informed purchase decision on a weapon that best meets your needs.
The reliability of any handgun is of paramount importance. The straight fact is that you need a weapon that will function consistently. You need to know that when the gun is needed, it will be reliable and will not malfunction or jam.
All our reviews feature handguns that are currently available from manufacturers that have built their reputation on weapon reliability.
Quality Material and Manufacturing
Again, you need to choose a handgun that is made from a material that is designed to last. In these terms, stainless steel is a long-time favorite, while polymer is also an excellent choice.
Choosing a handgun of sub-standard material will certainly reduce its life-cycle. You will also find that a quality manufacturing process, along with the material used, goes hand-in-hand with reliability.
Even with the best eight handguns for under $500 that we’ve reviewed, you will find a fairly wide price differential.
The goal for you should be to settle on a price that you are comfortable paying. Once this is decided, you can concentrate on handguns that cost up to that amount. Obviously, setting your budget at $500 gives a greater choice of weapons to choose from. Having said this, there are still good options that come in well below that price point.
Concealed Carry or Home Use?
Some handguns are tailored specifically for concealed carry purposes. Others are larger and/or heavier and will not be so easy to conceal carry daily. However, larger guns can still be a suitable choice for many people.
An example is if you intend to purchase a handgun solely for home defense purposes where a larger/heavier weapon can be more advantageous. Just make sure it is kept safe, secure, and easily accessible if you need it.
Decide which is your style, what your daily activities entail, and whether you feel the need to carry a gun when you are out and about. If you do wish to carry your weapon regularly, then there are two important considerations to think about:
- Which type of concealed carry method best suits you.
- The type of holster that best meets your needs.
Ease of Use and Practice
You can have the best handgun in the world that also doesn’t have features galore. However, being unfamiliar with its operation will render it ineffective and, in certain circumstances, downright dangerous.
Those new to the handgun world should purchase a reliable and well-made gun that is easy to operate. It is also extremely important that all handgun owners become intimately familiar with their chosen gun(s). Training and regular practice will enhance skills and greatly improve confidence.
These factors will be invaluable in any threatening situation. Additionally, frequent range practice is a thoroughly enjoyable pursuit. It is a great way to hone skills while improving your firearm handling ability.
A Fantastic Handgun will need some superb Holster options
So check out our reviews of the Best 1911 Holsters, the Best Cross Draw Holster, the Best Ankle Holsters, the Best Ruger Security 9 Holster, the Best Sig P238 Holsters, and the Best Springfield XDS 45 Holster currently on the market.
Or how about the Best Fanny Pack Holsters, the Best Shoulder Holsters, or the Best Small of Back Holsters you can buy in 2023.
So, what are the Best Handguns for Under $500?
Due to the huge number of handguns available for under $500, there are sure to be some favorites that are missing from our list of the best handguns for under 500 Dollars. However, we feel that all eight of our choices are a good fit in terms of quality and reliability.
When looking at a recommendation that will suit the majority of shooters, we have to go for the…
Springfield XD Defenders Series 9mm 3″ Pistol
Caliber-wise, it is a very sound choice (9mm). Capacity-wise, it is even better! You are getting 13+1-rounds, which should be more than sufficient for any defensive situation.
Springfield is renowned for producing durable and reliable weapons. This handgun is no different. It offers smooth shooting, can be concealed with relative ease, and has a passive grip safety feature that ensures you will fire it only when intended.
That’s all for now. Have a happy and safe shooting experience.