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By any measure, most handguns are a great value. They can provide you with lifetime and even generational service. My sister still uses the Smith & Wesson Model 10 that was passed down to her from my grandfather. But like with a car, the initial cost of a handgun is just the beginning; you’re going to need accessories and ammunition to go with it, or all you really have is an expensive paperweight. So, just exactly how much does a handgun cost to acquire, use, and maintain? See below.
Table of Contents
- Initial Cost of a Handgun
- Ammunition, Holster, and Storage
- Safety and Maintenance Equipment
- The Total Cost of a Handgun
- What Should Your Budget Be for a Handgun?
Initial Cost of a Handgun
Handguns come in a wide range of styles that are intended for plinking and recreation, hunting, competition, and self-defense. In each of these categories, you’ll find options from the inexpensive to the outrageous. Like with most things in life, you mostly get what you pay for, but mid-priced handguns costing between $600 and $1200 tend to offer the best value, especially if they’re going to be shot a lot.
So, how much does a handgun cost? Here are some examples: The Ruger Single Six is a fantastic recreational and small game rimfire handgun retailing for $799.00. Most new Glock pistols will sell for about $699 and make a great self-defense pistol. Smith & Wesson’s Model 629 can serve the big game hunter and will also work for bear defense. It’ll cost a little more than a grand and your grandkids will still be using it when you’re in the nursing home or long gone. Competition handgun cost varies a great deal depending on the shooting discipline, but a pistol like the Sig Sauer P320 Spectre Comp Blackout is right on the upper end of this price range. And Sig’s P322 rimfire pistol is only about $600, and even comes with a red dot sight. All are great options.
How Much Does a Handgun Cost: Ammunition, Holster, and Storage
Long term, the—how much does a handgun cost—question hinges mostly on ammunition, and that varies a great deal. The cost of ammunition for a rimfire handgun like the Ruger Single Six or Sig Sauer P322 will run between about $0.08 and $0.40 per round. Self-defense handgun ammo costs a bit more. Carry ammo runs about $1.00 per shot and good practice ammo can be had for a little less than half that. Ammunition for hunting big game, like you would use in a 10mm, 357 or 44 Mangum, will cost the most, averaging from around $1.50 to $2.70 per shot. How much you shoot will determine the annual cost, and if you figure shooting one 50-round box per month, during a year you’ll spend anywhere from around $50 to more than $1500.
Though a holster for your handgun is not a must, if you’re going to use your handgun anywhere other than at the range, you’ll need one, and you’ll need a good one. You can pick up a minimalist, Cordura/nylon style holster for less than $20, but they’re kind of flimsy. Ideally, you want a good quality leather or Kydex holster, and they’ll run from between $75 to $300. With a self-defense-style handgun, you might even want more than one holster; one for inside the waistband carry and one for outside.
Safe gun storage is a must, especially if you have youngsters in your home. There are essentially two options: You can go with a simple handgun lock, and many handguns come with them. Otherwise, they’re inexpensive and cost about $5.00. Or you can go with a single or multi-gun safe. An electronic biometric handgun safe will cost less than $200, and the prices for more traditional, multi-gun safes, will run between $500 to as much as $2000 depending on size. Different states have different laws around gun storage and transportation. Make sure to familiarize yourself with local laws.
How Much Does a Handgun Cost: Safety and Maintenance Equipment
If you’re already a shooter, you probably have eye and ear protection. If you need to buy eye and ear protection, reusable earplugs are very affordable at between $10 to $20. Affordable shooting glasses will cost about twice that. However, don’t skimp here, hearing damage and vision loss are not correctable, and it’s a good idea to buy good gear. Electronic hearing muffs start at about $50, and top-of-the-line electronic in-ear plugs will run you about a grand. Shooting glasses that offer the best protection start at around $150. If you need Rx shooting glasses, expect to spend twice that much.
If you want your handgun to last as long as possible you must take care of it, and that means you’ll need to perform routine service and preventive maintenance. If you’re a shooter, you probably already have everything you need to do this with, such as a cleaning rod, bore brushes, patches, solvents, and lubrication. If not, you’ll need to purchase a handgun cleaning kit, and you can expect to pay between $25 and $50 for a decent one. Long term you’ll have to supplement this kit with more patches and oils at the cost of about $10 per year.
How Much Does a Handgun Cost: Training
The most overlooked aspect of how much a handgun costs is good training. Handgun training is most often sought out by those who want to own a handgun for personal protection, but a basic handgun safety class is a good idea for any handgun owner. Training costs can vary drastically, with a weekend course costing as little as $50. Some of the absolute best handgun training available, like you’ll find a Gunsite Academy will set you back about $1900.
The Total Cost of a Handgun
So, how much does a handgun cost? Let’s do the math and stretch it out over a 10-year period. Let’s assume you purchase a Glock 19 for home protection, and for protection when you’re hunting or on the trail. If you shoot about 600 rounds a year, a decade’s worth of ammo and maintenance will cost you about $4000. Throw in another $400 for safety equipment and a handgun safe, and you’re pushing five grand or about $500 per year. And that’s with no allowance for training. Just owning a handgun is not that expensive, it’s the shooting part that costs. Again, it’s a lot like owning a car. A car in your driveway or a handgun in your safe doesn’t eat much; it’s the shooting and driving that get expensive.
What Should Your Budget Be for a Handgun?
Excluding all the accessories and ammunition, the good news is that you can find a handgun that is compatible with about any budget. For the outdoorsman looking for a handgun they can carry when on the trail, when fishing or hunting, or for just general camp or home defense, a good and reliable entry-level option like the Mossberg MC2sc or the Glock 19 will run you about half a grand.
If you want to step up to something like a 10mm, such as a Colt Delta Elite, because you want something for bear defense, you’ll need to double that price. A good single- or double-action revolver for bear defense or hunting will cost about the same. And then you have the higher-end, custom or semi-custom handguns like those from Wilson Combat or Korth, where the prices run into the thousands. But here’s the thing, regardless of the handgun you choose, over your lifetime you’ll spend way more money on ammunition.