One of the best ways to get a great gun for not a lot of money is to look into surplus guns. Usually they’re used pistols from the armed forces of either our country or someone else’s. Granted, that usually means a bit of wear and tear, but guns can be kept in working order for a lot longer than, say, cars can, and there are also a good deal of aftermarket parts on the market.
If you’re looking for a great deal on a concealed carry gun, or prefer something a little more unique than the typical offerings at your local gun store, here are some fantastic surplus handguns that would be great to add to the gun safe or put in a concealed carry holster.
There are a ton of surplus Beretta 92 (aka Beretta M9, our armed forces’ primary sidearm) pistols out there these days, and some at unbelievable discounts. They aren’t really the best for concealed carry as the 92 is practically the size of a battleship, but as a nightstand gun…you’d be hardpressed to do better. It’s one of the best-known Wonder Nines and some people think it’s the best of the breed.
Surplus Berettas will come from three primary sources. You have foreign 92s, which come from overseas after service in police or military forces there. There are police trade-in 92s, as many police departments issued (and many still do) this pistol. Lastly, military surplus M9s from the American military are out there and since the Sig P320 is on it’s way to replacing it…many more will be in the future.
FN/Israeli/FEG/Other Surplus Hi-Power
Ever wanted a Browning Hi Power but thought the price tag was just a bit too high? Then look for the surplus variety. Hi-Powers aren’t exactly the most popular gun here but they were one of the most common service pistols for police and military forces on a global scale for a very long time. Heck, at one point the Nazis actually seized the FN factory, started making them and issuing them to the German Army when they ran low on P38s.
Sometimes you may have to hunt for a really good deal, but they’re definitely out there – but there are a few things to know. First, the sights may not be that great. There may also be a magazine disconnect safety, if you care about that. Some may also have a magazine release on the heel.
Also, older Hi-Powers aren’t known for cycling holllowpoints very well, which is something to bear in mind. However, it’s a proven defensive sidearm, so again a good nightstand gun, and a number of people do use them as a CCW pistol.
CZ-83 and/or CZ-82
Back when the Soviet Block was still a thing, CZ made a pistol chambered in 9mm Makarov, the CZ-82, for use as the primary sidearm for its military and police forces. Later, a domestic version – the CZ-83 – was created that chambered .380 Auto and a few are out there in .32 ACP. It’s also a very good concealed carry pistol.
The CZ-82, just like the Makarov, borrowed heavily from the Walther PPK, as it employs the same fixed barrel/blowback-operated design. It even uses the same take-down procedure and looks a lot like the PPK too. What’s the difference? The CZ has a double-stack magazine, holding 12 rounds and is a bit bigger, as it’s more of a compact rather than a subcompact, but is quite streamlined.
The bore axis is fantastically low, making it quite accurate and easy to point – just like other CZs. However, the safety is frame-mounted rather than slide-mounted and is a true manual safety, rather than the Walther’s decocking safety. Double-action carry requires manually letting the hammer down, or you can carry in Condition One. The 82 is a bit rare, but the 83 can be found a bit more easily as they were imported after the import ban was lifted when the USSR fragmented.
The TT-33 pistol is another decent surplus gun, though it chambers an oddball caliber – 7.62x25mm Tokarev. That said, like some of the other .32 caliber rounds, the Tokarev is a screamer, often exceeding 1500 fps in velocity and upward of 500 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. It’s a fast-flying, hard-hitting round despite the smaller diameter and the good news is a number of companies currently make ammunition for it, including some decent hollowpoints. It’s actually one of the most powerful non-magnum revolver rounds.
It’s a single-stack, carrying 8 rounds and is slimmer than a 1911. The dimensions are about the size of a Commander frame, so it’s good for CCW and for nightstand/truck gun duty.
Don’t want a 60-year old Russian relic? That’s fine; Zastava, a Serbian firearms manufacturer, makes a modern version, which they dub the M57, which is imported into the US and sells for a pittance. There are some other replicas/variants from Soviet satellite states as well that make the rounds as well.
Surplus .38 Special Service Revolvers
Another good car gun/nightstand gun is to look for a surplus .38 Special service revolver. There are a number of makes and models out there, such as Star, Smith and Wesson and others. A good idea is to stick to a brand that has a good reputation. Good news is plenty of S&W Victory and other Model 10 pistols are out there after service here at home or abroad.
You may not be able to run +P or you may have no issues, depending on the make and model of pistol. Either way, a working six-shot .38 is a decent defensive pistol.