Five Great Guns to get with a $500 Income Tax Refund

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With the taxman's cut now determined, some of us lucky Americans are waiting and checking, wishing and hoping for that all so magic talisman of citizenship-- the income tax refund. Provided that it doesn't have to all go to pay bills or buy new tires, some of us may even be able to splurge on a new gun. Lets talk about some timeless ways to invest that check.

The problem

According to a 2013 study, some 75 % of Americans that pay taxes get some sort of refund. The average refund amount is $2800 (I know, that surprised me too). So if you take that amount and put some aside for bill-catch up, and set another chunk aside for a rainy day, the figure of about $500, which is 20% of the 'average' refund, seems like a reasonable splurge.

So with that in mind, lets talk hardware.

A basic 1911

If you have always looked at John Browning's hardballer longslide and thought, 'should I?' then you have already answered your question. The good news is that $500 will get you very close to having this box checked. Import cast-frame 1911s from Rock Island, Metro Arms, Iver Johnson and others can often be had for less than that amount while forge-framed versions made (or at least assembled) closer to home like the Springfield Armory Mil Spec series can be found for right at that amount. The good news is: they are all 1911s.

An entry level AR

With the 2013 gun control/assault weapon ban hysteria behind us, the world is awash on good deals in the AR-15-ish category. Mossberg's MMR and the S&W M&P Sport series as well as a number of guns with polymer lowers are running near $500 if you shop around hard enough-- especially on gently used models.

You can always build your own and save money. New Frontier Armory out in Nevada sells a complete (polymer) lower for just $130. Add a decent upper and BCG to it and you can bring a complete rifle into the larder for around $500. For a few dollars more, you can get a Del-Ton, BCI, Palmetto or Spikes Tactical complete lower (in aluminum!) and rock and roll. As a bonus, Mini-14s are coming back down to this price from a 2013-high of over $1K, so now might be a good time to invest in one of those ranch rifles as well.

A good semi-auto shotgun

Pumps are swag and most scattergun owners start with a few to learn the basic. However, a nice semi-auto shotgun in 12 or 20-gauge is a thing of joy. It used to be that these guns ran prohibitively expensive to the point that if you wanted one for less than $700, you had to go used.

Well that's not the case anymore. Since there are more manufacturers out there bringing these guns into the country and producing locally, the prices have tumbled in recent years. When Beretta switched over from the old model 390 to a new version, they had thousands of already made receivers in storage which led to huge numbers of "Beretta Technys 390" and 3901 model guns on big box shelves for $400-ish. These guns are great for the money if you can find them still out there. Other nice models that are out there include the Stoeger 2000 series which is based on the Benelli line, but runs well under $500 (be sure to get a newer one as older ones had issues). Also, if black synthetic is fine with you look up the Mossberg 935 and the Model 11-87 Sportsman Field shotgun but be sure to shop around.

Did you say Glock?

Although Glock has had a huge backorder to work through, there are still Glock distributors out there who are well stocked with G17s, G19s, G22s, and others. These polymer-framed pistols have been popular for home defense and law enforcement for generations. The current Gen 4 models of these guns allow the user to change out backstraps for comfort and still accept the old (cheap) magazines.

Did we mention the magazines are cheap? Anyway, street price on a standard Glock without night sites or custom features new in box is hovering around $500. Of course, if the G-ride is too Austrian for you, Ruger's single stack SR9/SR40 series pistols and Smith's M&Ps are very close to this same price point as well-- just shop around.

Beware, deer, for there is always next year

The best time to buy a hunting rifle is in the spring. This is when many gun stores are looking to move last year's inventory to make way for the 'new stuff' that they just placed orders for during the SHOT Show excitement. This is when you can strike while it is hot on that bolt-action .270, .30-06, or .308 gathering dust on the rack. Retailers know that odds are no one will want to look at that rifle until next fall, so time is on your side with that fat check from the IRS in your pocket.

With so many new hunting rifles unveiled last year to include the Ruger New American and the Remington 783, distributors sent out all they could ship, meaning that these guns are often still out there, so check around as their price tags are probably falling as you are reading this.

Good luck out there and get something you always wanted.

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February 21, 2014  •  08:24 AM
Don't dismiss the SIG SP2022. A very affordable option that comes in 9mm, and .40. Conversion barrels are also available.
February 23, 2014  •  09:43 AM
Just ordered a TP-9 made in Turkey from Canik Arms for $320 including free shipping. Comes with several accessories that I would have spent extra for anyway so that leaves some money for ammo fun.