The best thing about this industry is that there is a little something for everyone. In fact, you can almost find anything at any price point these days. Guns are getting cheaper, and it’s been a downward trend since Glock introduced the Glock 17. With that in mind, let’s look at the year 2023 and some of the best budget blasters we got this year. As it comes to a close, I doubt we’ll see too much new stuff, so let’s bring on the latest and greatest.
The Ruger Security-380 was an underappreciated reveal at SHOT Show 2023. I think Ruger isn’t marketing it right for the platform. The Security-380 ACP falls into that category of handgun that the EZ series from S&W enters and what the Walther CCP has been doing for years. It’s designed to be a compact-sized .380 ACP with very little recoil, and excellent capacity.
It’s a literack model, so it doesn’t need much strength to operate. It can hold 15 rounds of .380 ACP, and that makes it a great modern option for home defense-minded, recoil-sensitive shooters. It’s also available for less than 300 bucks right now at retailers like Academy. My biggest problem with this gun is the fact Ruger doesn’t make an optic’s ready model.
Extar EP-9 Carbine
The Extar series of budget friendly large format pistols have proven that direct-to-consumer sales are completely possible and make for a more efficient firearm. You could put all of Extar’s firearms on this list, but the Extar EP-9 Carbine is the latest and greatest. The EP-9 carbine features a 16-inch barrel, your typical carbine stock.
It uses Glock magazines and it’s AR-like, but not really. When we go to a straight blowback system we can throw off some of the chains of the AR design and get a little more creative with everything. The one downside to me is the reciprocating charging handle. It’s close to the optic’s rail and gives you the SCAR treatment with optics mounts.
Anderson Dissipator AM15
Anderson makes lots and lots of budget-grade AR-15-type carbines. What they did this year surprised me. They released a real Dissipator. A lot of the Dissipators being produced use a carbine or at best mid-length gas system with a false FSB gas block. The Dissipator AM15 uses a true rifle-length gas system.
These rifles retail for around 500 bucks and tend to be pretty solid budget blasters. I’d suggest getting a complete Anderson rifle versus parts and piecing one out or doing some kind of 80 percent lower build. This tends to ensure everything is a bit more in-spec. Low recoil, a smooth shooter, and a carbine-length barrel is tough to beat.
Palmetto State Armory Rock 5.7x28mm
I keep thinking that eventually, the price of 5.7x28mm will come down with all the various handguns coming out. I’m not always right, but I still have hope for it. A lot of 5.7x28mm handguns are expensive, but PSA has introduced the budget-friendly Rock, and sells for less than 500 dollars. The Rock gives you a budget blaster way to get into 5.7, so you can save money to buy ammo.
The pistol comes in optics-ready variants, and of course, it has a rail. We also get Glock-compatible sights and a nice 23-round magazine. What’s not to love? Of course, you have to pay the piper for ammo, but that’s not always a bad thing.
Beretta Ultima A300 Patrol
Last, but not least is the Ultima A300 Patrol. It’s probably the best gun on the list, but it’s also the least budget friendly. The Beretta Ultima A300 Patrol is the cheapest Beretta tactical shotgun you can buy. It’s less than a grand but offers you a proven gas-operated design from a masterclass of a company.
The Beretta Ultima A300 Patrol isn’t cheap but comes with basically everything you need to rock and roll. It’s got an M-LOK handguard, it’s optic’s ready and has hook and loop for attaching a modern side saddle. Ghost ring sights, an adjustable stock, and more. It’s one of the most affordable tactical shotguns that still checks the high-end box.
Who doesn’t like saving a buck or two? High-end firearms are quite nice, but sometimes you need to save a little money. When the time comes the industry provides with handguns, rifles, and shotguns. There are plenty of budget blasters to go around, and with Christmas around the corner maybe it’s time to narrow down your wish list.