How Much Should You Spend on a Firearm?
With any asset you’re considering purchasing, budget is always a consideration. Well, when it comes to buying a firearm—an asset that could literally be used to protect you, your loved ones, your home, and your property—budget still plays a major role. But when you’re dealing with such high stakes, it can be confusing to know just how much to spend. You don’t want to skimp on a tool that could play such a vital role, but you probably don’t want to break the bank, either.
Here are a few things to consider to help you find the right price point for your next firearm purchase—especially if it’s your first firearm purchase.
Type of Firearm
There are three basic types of firearms: handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Each of these firearm types is divided further into subcategories, such as style, caliber, type of action, barrel length, and more, but before you consider any of these things, you must first decide on which type of firearm you’re looking to purchase.
Shotguns and pistols are designed for closer ranges, while rifles are better suited for longer ranges. It would be extremely simplistic to say that because rifles and shotguns are larger than handguns and typically use more materials, they are generally more expensive than handguns. But there are just as many exceptions to this statement as examples backing it up. There are some very expensive handguns out there, and you can also find some extremely budget-friendly rifles and shotguns.
In general, you can expect to spend less for a shotgun than a rifle or handgun, and a quality rifle will typically run more than a handgun of comparable quality. Again, there are shotguns out there that are tens of thousands of dollars and handguns that are exponentially more expensive than some rifles. But, looking at the three categories as a whole, a quality rifle generally costs more than a handgun of comparable quality, which typically costs more than a shotgun of comparable quality.
So, if you’re new to purchasing firearms and you’re not even sure which type to purchase, from a purely budgetary point of view, an entry-level shotgun typically costs less than an entry-level handgun, which typically costs less than an entry-level rifle. But once you start moving to higher-quality firearms, all bets are off.
How you plan on using a firearm plays a huge role in determining how much to spend. For example, if you’re a farmer and want a shotgun or rifle to carry in your truck just in case you see a fox sneaking into your chicken coop, then a budget-friendly utility make/model might suit you just fine. On the other hand, if you’re a hunter who’s spending tens of thousands of dollars to go on a dream hunt to bag a big-game animal you might only get in your sights once in a lifetime, you’re going to want a high-end precision rifle and optic to make your dream a reality.
Likewise, if you only want a handgun for plinking cans or shooting targets in the woods on weekends, a lower-end budget model might suit you just fine. But, if you’re a competitive shooter, you’re going to want the best possible handgun you can afford to help you rack up points and win competitions. The same holds true if you’re purchasing a firearm for self-defense or home protection. You want to spend enough to know the firearm you’re trusting to keep you and your loved ones safe is a quality piece of equipment that’s reliable and dependable enough to get the job done.
Manufacturer & Reputation
There are certain manufacturers—Daniel Defense being one of them—that have impeccable reputations in the gun industry and among gun owners. These great reputations typically demand a premium at the sales counter because, with firearms, you get what you pay for. Great reputations are earned, typically because a company cares about how they and their products are perceived. Which means they’ll use quality materials and parts, precision manufacturing, extreme quality control, and stand behind their products after they leave their manufacturing facilities.
If a gun manufacturer has a reputation for cutting corners, using sub-par materials and components, inconsistent performance, or not standing behind their firearms, don’t be swayed by a bargain price. The success of a hunt or competition could be at stake—even your very life could be dependent on that firearm performing flawlessly when you need it most. You want to ensure that your firearm is backed by its manufacturer’s reputation, even if that means paying a little extra.
Cost of Ammo
The cost of the actual firearm is only the beginning of firearm ownership—especially if you plan on doing extensive live-fire training or using it a lot, which is recommended to become safe and proficient with it. So, if you buy a firearm chambered in a caliber that requires costly ammunition or uses ammunition that’s hard to find, count on spending substantially more to use that firearm.
Ammo availability and cost can make a huge difference, depending on what you plan on doing with the firearm. For example, if you want a rifle primarily for target practice, an AR-style rifle chambered in 5.56mm will cost you significantly less to shoot than, say, a larger .30 caliber rifle. You can probably find 5.56mm ammo for $0.50 a round or less, whereas, other larger calibers, such as .338 Lapua Magnum, could easily cost upwards of $6 per round. Of course, if you’re planning on using a larger-caliber firearm for hunting, competitive shooting, or even home-defense, then that’s what you should train with. Just know that you’ll be spending more to feed that firearm than a firearm chambered in a more affordable caliber.
A bare-bones firearm should obviously cost less than the same model tricked out with multiple accessories. So, for example, if you want night sights on a handgun you plan on using for home protection, expect to pay more than the same handgun with standard daytime sights. The same holds true for AR15-style rifles, which are ready-made to sport accessories like optics, sling swivel mounts, lights, bipods, and more. A tricked-out firearm will cost more than the base model.
However, just keep in mind that the likelihood of you accessorizing your firearm down the road is pretty high (it just happens), so you could potentially save a few bucks by purchasing a pre-accessorized firearm up front, especially if a dealer is offering a package discount.
So, How Much Should I Spend Already?
If you’re still expecting a definitive answer to this question, then you obviously skipped ahead to this section and ignored the rest of this article. Because the truth is that you need to consider all of the above and how your budget will accommodate your decisions. If money is no object, then by all means spend away and buy the very best. It may end up being more gun than you’ll ever need, but it’s always better to have extra than not enough.
If you have a budget, then stay within that budget, but stay away from “bargains” made by manufacturers with questionable reputations. You really can’t go wrong going with an industry-leading manufacturer with a reputation for quality and standing behind their product. Daniel Defense is one of those companies, and they guarantee 100 percent satisfaction. But there are others out there, so do your homework.
And if your budget doesn’t allow you to go with a quality manufacturer, consider waiting a bit on your purchase and saving more money until it does. You won’t be sorry.