Where Do Price and Performance Meet? Randy's Firearm Picks

By Randy Wakeman

There is an imaginary intersection where quality, performance and price all intersect for the individual. It will forever remain an individual choice as these things cannot be measured with a slide rule or protractor. Often, we fickle consumers say one thing and then do completely the opposite. We say we want quality, performance, pride of ownership, customer service and so forth, but then we often go to Wally World and buy something that does not display any of the values that we said are important. By far, the cheapest part of gun ownership is the firearm itself. Yet, it is the gun that is shopped mercilessly when the true cost of ownership is consumables, not the firearm. Here are what I feel are the bargains of today, primarily based on function. They won't be any cheaper next year, so if you want to get some gear that performs it might be a good time to consider them.


The Ruger LCR is the most advanced snub-nose of its genre ever developed. It is a three quarters of a pound .38 Special portable powerhouse with a MSRP of $525. It you need a gun you might have to bet your life on, then get something that is built right and works right. The Ruger LCR is no target pistol or long range combat handgun, but it is the best of its type today.


The Savage Mark II BV .22LR heavy barrel is a screaming deal at $352 MSRP. It has a great trigger, as you would expect, the Accu-Trigger adapted to Savage's rimfire line, and it essentially shoots to the limit of the ammo you feed it. In my case, inside half an inch at 100 yards. It is an incredibly accurate, fun to shoot .22. It is the most bang for the buck in rimfires today and of course you can have a lot of bangs for very few bucks in this platform.


The Ithaca eight-shot Model 37 Defense gun, 20 inch barrel, is an easy choice. When your life is on the line, it really isn't a great time to settle for second best. MSRP is $549.


Two years ago as part of the $1000 big game hunting rifle battery selection by G & S Online, I chose the following:

Rifle: Savage Model 11G Hunter, blue/hardwood, .308 Winchester ($547 at local dealer)

Ammunition: Remington Express 180 grain Core-Lokt PSP ($16/box at Bi-Mart)

Riflescope: Bushnell Elite 3200 3-10x40mm Short Action Compact ($219 at Midway USA)

Mount base and rings: Warne Maxima Weaver-style 2-pc. steel bases and 1" rings ($49 at Midway USA)

Binocular: Canon 8x32 Water Proof roof prism ($149 at Amazon.com)

Total 2008 retail price: $980 (approx.)

So, what has changed? Primarily the introduction of the Savage Accu-Stock that, along with the Savage P.A.D. Recoil Pad makes the Savage 111FHNS in .30-06 (SKU 17932) too good to pass up at the same $574 street price. The example I tested shot a 1/8 inch group at 100 yards and, as the saying goes, if you can't do it with a .30-06, you probably can't do it. The scope gets changed to the longer body Bushnell Elite 3200 3-9 x 40 ($179), and with the cash saved there I'm upping the binocular quality a huge notch to the new Bushnell Legend Ultra-HD 8 x 42 #198042 ($290 ).

The new Bushnell binos are too good to pass up, but if you already have them (or feel you can make do with what you have in that department) you're down below $800 and can take the wife out for dinner and dancing.


The Benelli SuperNova 12 gauge 3-1/2 inch slide-action does it all, does it all well and does it for $559 MSRP in basic black or $639 in camo.


Now that the current crop of autoloading shotguns has ballooned to $1400 or more of retail price, many without highly polished blue or authentic walnut, I can't come up with a bargain with a straight face or a comfortable stomach for you. If there was ever a time to consider a new-in-the-grease Browning A-5 or B-80 / A303 autoloader, that time would be right now.

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Copyright 2010, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.