Monday, January 7, 2013

Baker's Dozen 13 Quality Handguns for Less than $500



By Dr. Martin D. Topper

The economy is about as lackluster as it gets. Unless, that is, you’re talking about the manufacture and sale of handguns, which is one of the few growth sectors.

A recent article by Martha C. White referred to a Gallup Poll that indicated household ownership of firearms had risen from 41% to 47%. White further reported that the fastest selling items were small, inexpensive handguns.  However it's not just men who are buying guns; the number of women purchasing guns rose 9% in the last year.

If gun buying patterns in my neck of the woods are like the rest of the country, many of those guns purchased by women and men were handguns for personal defense.

Given the current interest in inexpensive handguns, I searched the web for new handguns that could be purchased for less than $500 and went to the Florida Gun Exchange to look at a number of reasonably-priced used guns.  The search turned up many new and used guns priced less than $500, and it was easy to find a representative sample of these pistols and revolvers for this article.

Each gun was inspected for defects in workmanship or signs of excessive wear. All of the handguns described below were well-fitted and functioned smoothly. Some of the used guns had holster wear, but they were otherwise in very good to excellent condition.

New Guns

The new guns examined were regular production models. None of these revolvers and pistols had been modified in any way, and no attempt was made to select the best example of any particular model. These are the same guns that anyone who passes a background check can buy from a well-stocked gun shop.

1 Beretta Tomcat .32 ACP

Beretta's Tomcat is a popular small Double Action (DA) semi-automatic.  It's a bit big for a pocket .32, but it is comfortable to hold and will conceal in either a coat pocket or an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster.

There are a number of hollowpoint defense loads made for this caliber, including a Winchester Silvertip, Federal Hydra-Shok, COR-BON DPX, a Speer Gold Dot and a Hornady XTP. Winchester's factory ballistics have a 60 gr. Silvertip hollow point bullet leaving the muzzle at about 970 fps, which produces about 125 ft. pds. of muzzle energy.

The .32 ACP is clearly not a high-powered cartridge, but actual street results published by Evan Marshall and Edwin Sanow indicate that it expands to a little more than .40 caliber and penetrates a bit more than 9 inches in actual shootings.

The Tomcat examined for this article was well made. It's double-action trigger pull was smooth and the sear broke cleanly. One nice feature of the Tom Cat is its tip-up barrel. This pistol's user doesn't have to cycle the slide to load or unload it. Just release the barrel latch and either insert or remove the cartridge. For those who want carry gun that is easy to use and has limited blast and recoil, the Tomcat is a good option.

SIDEBAR

Specifications

Beretta Tomcat
Action:         Blow back operated semi-automatic pistol
Caliber:         .32 ACP
Frame:        Aluminum alloy
Capacity:        8 rounds with loaded chamber
Barrel Length:     2.4 inches
Trigger:        DA
Overall Length:  4.9 inches
Weight:        14 oz. unloaded
Sights:        Fixed
Finish:        Blue
MSRP:        $435

1 comment:

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