Self-Defense Issues

Cheap Riot Guns

Riots are raging across the United States – and have been for days. Consequently, I’ve had a number of emails come in from readers who are looking for the best self-defense pistol on a budget. Let’s not forget that the government lockdowns from the health crisis have left many people in a tough financial situation.

In an effort to reduce the number of emails I am responding to, I figured it might be easier to share my thoughts here.

[Note: These are the things that I was able to find in stock today. There are a lot of good guns that are inexpensive, but you can’t get them because of the run.]


Your local gun store, or LGS, may have some good deals in the used firearms case that would make for a cheap riot gun. The problem is that demand is way up on guns, so a lot of local gun shops are very low on inventory. The remaining stock tends to be a bit pricier.

Also, for the same reasons you might be looking for a gun, those that might be trading in are holding back until this crisis is over.

Nevertheless, you may still be able to find something at your local shop. It will definitely be luck if you land something great at a reasonable price.


You are more likely to find what you want by shopping online. However, it will still take time for the gun(s) to ship. Between increased sales and UPS/FedEx slow downs due to the pandemic and rioting – well, shipping times are not ideal in a lot of areas. The upside is that you can still find what you need.

There are a lot of places to shop online. Palmetto State Armory is my “go to” gun store as they seem to have more in stock than many other dealers PLUS offer good pricing. Also, I’ve had good service from them for many years. is another online seller. They often have what I’m looking for in stock, but the pricing is hit and miss. Sometimes they’ve got great prices, but many times I’ll find the same item at PSA for cheaper.

What to Buy?

I talked about where to buy, now let’s look at what might be some of the better deals available right now.

Smith & Wesson Shield

Smith Wesson Shield - Cheap Riot Gun

If you need something small to carry for protection, it is tough to beat the original Smith & Wesson Shield in 9mm. This single-stack pistol holds 7+1 rounds in a flush-fitting magazine and 8+1 in the extended. In my Smith & Wesson Shield review, I found the gun to be an exceptional value. I still own mine and recommend them.

Normally $500-ish, PSA now has these on sale for less than $400. That’s for a brand new pistol with a full factory warranty.

Smith & Wesson M&P LE Trade-Ins

Smith Wesson MP40 LE Trade In for Self Defense

Right now, PSA has a limited number of used Smith & Wesson M&P40 pistols in stock for about $270. These are law enforcement trade-in guns chambered for the .40 S&W.

In general, I’ve found LE trade-in guns to be well maintained and 100% reliable. I own several myself, and they are some of the best deals I’ve ever gotten.

PSA has two varieties available: the first one is black, while the second has a gray frame with a black slide. Both show to have night sights, though they may be a bit weak depending on their age.

Frankly, this is one of the best deals on the used riot gun market right now.

PSA is also offering the .45 ACP version of the LE trade-in M&P pistol. These are much more desirable and have a higher price tag: about $350 (limited time sale for $320 right now.) They are also marked as having night sights.

Update: The trade-ins referenced above are out of stock. However, you can check the site for a current inventory of trade-ins here.

Beretta 92S Italian Police Trade-In

Beretta 92S Police Trade In

Another law enforcement trade-in, these guns are the classic model 92 design chambered for the 9mm cartridge. If you like the feel of the US Army’s old M9 pistol, you will like the feel of this gun.

Caution, however, is in order. These guns are not identical to the 92F/M9 style pistols. The magazine release, for example, is located in the heel of the grip like many older European guns. Also, the sights are smaller than on the American guns.

However, these pistols can still shoot well and at about $390 (on sale for less than $330 right now) they are worth considering.

Update: The trade-ins referenced above are out of stock. However, you can check the site for a current inventory of trade-ins here.

Taurus TH9

Taurus TH9 Cheap Riot Gun

If you are looking for a new pistol, the Taurus TH9 is one of the better priced 9mm pistols available. It’s currently less than $350 with a full warranty. I’m not a huge fan of Taurus pistols, but a number of people have recommended these guns. So, you might want to take a look.

Smith & Wesson SD9 VE

Smith & Wesson SD9 Best PRice

Also a new gun with a full factory warranty, the SD9 VE is a two-tone 9mm pistol that packs 16 rounds into each magazine. It is not a fancy gun, but I’ve had completely reliable service from my SD-series gun.

Between this and the Taurus TH9, I much prefer this for only $10 more.

Other Options

If you have the money to stretch a bit more, there are a lot of pistol options around the $400 mark. Guns like the Smith & Wesson 380EZ, Springfield Armory XD9 Subcompact and Glock 42 become available.

Final Thoughts

Atlanta Car Fire

Being on a tight budget when you need to buy a gun isn’t a great place to be in – I get it. Prices are up at the moment when people are being hit hard by economic conditions. Yet, riots are burning cities and the police are overwhelmed. You need a cheap riot gun.

None of the above would be my first choice if I wasn’t worried about money. But, all of the above should serve you well if danger comes to your home.

As with any gun purchase – get good training, use quality ammunition and keep the gun out of the hands of children, drunks and fools. If you don’t know what you are doing, ask a friend for help!

Leave a comment below if you know of any great deals –that are available– right now.


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By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

7 replies on “Cheap Riot Guns”

The best riot gun is a 12 gauge, but like the man said – good luck on finding any.

I have seen those SAR CZ clones locally, and those are pretty good. Its just the new prices have driven up the costs.

I’ll also seccond the SCCY pistols. I own two. Had a problem with one, but the company had a new gun to me in the same week. Amazingly fast service. The new gun plus the other have been super reliable. I’ve even been through a couple of 8 hour classes with them locally,

Hi Randy,

I’ve seen some of the Sarsilmaz guns popping up locally as well. I’ve not spent much time with them, but I know several people who really like them.

Glad to hear SCCY took care of you. I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with the company.


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